Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR)

Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is a treatment for patients who have severe aortic stenosis, which is a stiffening and narrowing of the aortic valve in the heart. TAVR is a treatment for people who are at moderate or high risk for complications with open-heart surgery or who are too ill to undergo open surgery.

Why Choose University of Iowa for Your Heart Valve Care

The University of Iowa Heart and Vascular Center is one of a select group of centers across the nation and was the first in Iowa to offer the TAVR procedure to qualified patients. We are the most experienced TAVR center in the region.

Here are more reasons to entrust your care to us:

  • In 2011, UI Heart and Vascular Center became the first program in the nation to receive certification for its cardiac valve program from The Joint Commission, the accreditation agency for health care organizations in the United States.
  • In addition to a wide range of transcatheter procedures, the center’s heart valve clinic also offers minimally invasive surgery for heart valve repair and replacement.
  • Since opening in 2011, the UI Heart and Vascular Center TAVR Program has evaluated more than 1,200 patients and performed more than 600 TAVR procedures. Procedural success has been consistently higher (99 percent) than the national average.
  • The University of Iowa is the only center in Iowa participating in a number of research studies to improve TAVR treatment:
    • We are the only Iowa center offering a clinical trial of TAVR in patients with low surgical risk.
    • UI is the only center in Iowa investigating using TAVR on patients with severe aortic disease before they have symptoms, with the goal of reducing complications down the road.
    • We are the only center participating in trials looking at ways to reduce the risk of stroke in all TAVR procedures.

How TAVR Works

TAVR is a procedure that replaces the aortic valve without open-heart surgery. Benefits include faster recovery, shorter hospitalization, less pain, and fewer complications as compared to open-heart surgery.

In most situations, a new aortic valve is mounted on a tube called a catheter and inserted in an artery located at the front of the thigh, called the femoral artery. The new aortic valve is then advanced to the heart, positioned inside the narrowed original valve, and expanded.   

This procedure is called transfemoral TAVR.

If the leg artery is too small to accommodate the valve, the valve may be inserted using a small incision in the shoulders or chest. The location of the incision is chosen based on the particular details of the patient’s cardiovascular system. TAVR is less invasive than conventional open surgical valve replacement, and the recovery is faster than open-heart surgery.

Transcatheter Valve Replacement for Artificial Heart Valve Disease 

Artificial heart valves may become narrowed (stenosis) or leaky (regurgitation). Repeating open-heart surgery to replace the poorly functioning artificial valve can be difficult. Catheter valves may be a treatment option if the diseased artificial valve is made of tissue.

Artificial aortic, mitral, tricuspid, and pulmonary valves that are not working properly may all be effectively treated using procedures similar to TAVR.

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Care Team

UI Heart and Vascular Center offers you the most experienced physicians and most comprehensive transcatheter valve program in the entire state of Iowa and western Illinois.

We have a highly collaborative team including heart surgeons, interventional cardiologists, heart imaging specialists, and anesthesiologists. All patients are evaluated for TAVR by both heart surgeons and a cardiologist. After any needed testing is performed, the team confers to determine the best treatment for the heart valve problem. The participation of many specialists assures optimal results for our patients.

  • Alyssa Speight, RN, BSN