Traditionally, aortic stenosis has only been treated with open heart surgery to replace the aortic valve. Recently, cardiologists and surgeons at UVA have been key in a landmark clinical research trial named PARTNER (IRB-HSR# 14096) that uses a less invasive procedure to implant a new type of aortic valve called the Sapien valve.
Based on the results from our clinical trial and a small number of other institutions in the U.S., the FDA has approved the Sapien valve in selected patients, via a procedure called transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR).
Who Is Eligible for TAVR?
High-risk patients with severe aortic stenosis are eligible for TAVR treatment using the Sapien valve. This expands the preexisting eligibility pool of patients deemed too risky for conventional surgery.
Patients with primarily aortic valve leakage or regurgitation are not candidates, nor are patients with active infection, recent heart attack or stroke.
How the TAVR Procedure Works
You're placed under general anesthesia during the procedure. A transesophageal echocardiogram, which passes an ultrasound transducer through your mouth to your stomach, allows your doctor to clearly see the diseased aortic valve and guide the placement of the Sapien valve.
Your doctor inserts the Sapien valve through a catheter via a small incision on the blood vessel in the leg and threads it up to the heart. The Sapien valve is crimped onto a balloon at the end of that catheter, and when in position across the old diseased valve, the balloon inflates to expand the valve into position and move the diseased valve out of the way.