Yes, there’s a minimally invasive procedure that uses a catheter -- TAVR -- that may be a better choice for some people who are at moderate to high risk of complications from open heart surgery.
TAVR stands for transcatheter aortic valve replacement. Using a catheter that goes through an artery, the doctor inserts a collapsible replacement valve into your body’s own aortic valve. When expanded, the new valve pushes tissue on the old valve out of the way and begins regulating blood flow. Your experience is similar to having a stent inserted. TAVR can sometimes be done under light sedation, avoiding the risks associated with general anesthesia. TAVR requires a very small incision at most, and leaves all your chest bones in place.
TAVR may be the better choice for people who are older, frail and have a history of health problems, such as stroke, heart attack, atrial fibrillation, COPD, peripheral artery disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.
No procedure is without risks. The risks from TAVR include bleeding, stroke, irregular heart rhythm, need for pacemaker after the procedure and, in rare cases, death. However, most people who have the TAVR procedure enjoy greater quality of life and life expectancy.