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Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR): Life-Saving Heart Valve Surgery

Image Courtesy of Medtronic

TAVR is a minimally invasive, catheter-based procedure that replaces the aortic valve without removing the old, damaged valve. From the groin, a catheter is threaded into the femoral artery to the aorta, which leads to the heart. A fully collapsible replacement valve is delivered to the valve site through the catheter. Once in position, the valve is unfurled and begins working immediately. Afterwards, patients’ symptoms disappear, and they have more energy. Within four to six hours following surgery, they are up and walking.

Virginia Hospital Center is nationally recognized for its excellent patient outcomes in cardiac care. Our TAVR Program offers a coordinated approach to an alternative procedure for patients who cannot undergo open heart surgery. Our physicians are very proud of the efforts made with their colleagues to create a regional heart center for cardiology, cardiovascular surgery and structural heart disease at Virginia Hospital Center.

The TAVR procedure is:

A Multidisciplinary Approach

First, patients are evaluated independently by a cardiovascular surgeon and an interventional cardiologist. Then, our physicians bring together a team of specialists to evaluate which valve replacement procedure is the best treatment option for each patient, whether performed minimally invasively or as open heart surgery.

A Team Approach

It involves two cardiologists and a cardiac surgeon for placement of the valve. Our TAVR team makes every decision together. It involves 12-15 clinicians in the patient’s care, including cardiovascular surgeons, interventional cardiologists, cardiac anesthesiologists, radiologists, perfusionists, cardiovascular operating room and cardiac catheterization nurses, registered cardiac technicians and valve coordinators. After surgery, patients require the highest level of cardiac care — staying one day in the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CVICU) and one day in the Stepdown Unit. Through the entire process—from prescreening to surgery and beyond — the valve coordinator guides the patient and is available to answer any questions at any time. The typical hospital stay for a patient having the TAVR procedure is 2.5 days. Through the many decisions leading up to and during TAVR, the team is constantly coordinating care and discussing options for the patient.

Excellent Outcomes

Outcomes for the TAVR Program at Virginia Hospital Center are excellent.
One of the advantages of this approach is that light sedation is used instead of general anesthesia. The patient’s recovery begins while they are still in the Hospital and they can return to their normal activities very quickly.

Patient Success Stories

“I’m so glad I did not have to have open heart surgery! I recovered within a short period of time and I continue to progress all the time. I have a lot more energy, and I’m not as tired. After my procedure in April, I was back at work part time by mid-May and full time in June.”
— Frank Mack, Springfield.

“I had a heart valve problem and was told I only had about nine months to live. Then, my doctor called to say there was a new procedure being done at Virginia Hospital Center that could help me. When I woke up after surgery, I could breathe easily and my head wasn’t spinning. Within a few hours, I was walking the halls of the Hospital.”
— Linnia Victorine, Gainesville.

To read their stories, click here.



“With the addition of TAVR, we are bringing new hope to patients for whom there was no available treatment.”
John R. Garrett, MD, FACS Chief, Cardiac, Vascular & Thoracic Surgery, Virginia Hospital Center

“It is rewarding to see how quickly our patients recover after TAVR. Their quality of life is improved and they’re living longer as a result of this procedure.”

John Rhee, MD, FACS, Cardiovascular Surgeon, Cardiac, Vascular & Thoracic Surgery, Virginia Hospital Center

"TAVR is a reflection of the tremendous advancements we’ve made in cardiology. Aortic stenosis used to be a terminal diagnosis for patients who were not candidates for open heart surgery. Now the patient is up and walking later that day and going home in another day or so. It’s remarkable."
R. Preston Perrin, MD, FACC, FSCAI, Interventional Cardiologist, VHC Physician Group - Cardiology, Co-Director of the Louise Sands Olmstead Cardiac Catheterization Lab.

"It’s very gratifying to see how well patients do after TAVR. Before, they are listless, pale and tired all the time. Afterwards, the family sees the color return to the patient’s face right away. It’s a big difference. They get their loved one back."
Ameya Kulkarni, MD, Interventional Cardiologist, Kaiser Permanente, Co-Director of the Louise Sands Olmstead Cardiac Catheterization Lab at Virginia Hospital Center.

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