BACKGROUND

Aortic valve narrowing or stenosis may be an indication for transcatheter aortic valve replacement or TAVR. Calcific aortic stenosis is shown here. The aortic valve is obstructed, causing pressure to build in the left ventricle, so that there can be adequate blood flow across the narrowed valve. This can result in damage to the heart muscle over time.

When transcatheter aortic valve replacement is performed, a guide wire is inserted through a small incision in the thigh, advanced to the aorta and passed through the stenotic valve. A balloon catheter is then inserted over the guide wire. This balloon is inflated to prepare for the placement of the replacement valve. A special balloon catheter within a collapsed replacement valve is then inserted. Inflation of the balloon expands the replacement valve over the narrowed aortic valve. The balloon catheter and guide wire are removed, leaving the functioning replacement valve in place and allowing blood to flow freely out of the heart.