The TAVR/TAVI Team at Virginia Mason Franciscan Health
The TAVR/TAVI team at Virginia Mason Franciscan Health is a team of specially trained cardiac surgeons, interventional cardiologists and nurse coordinators who perform structural heart procedures at St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma and St. Michael Medical Center in Silverdale for our patients’ convenience.
What is TAVR?
A transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), also called transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI), is a minimally invasive procedure to replace a diseased aortic heart valve without removing the existing one. Your doctor may recommend this procedure if you have symptomatic aortic stenosis, a condition that prevents the aortic valve from opening fully. TAVR can be a life-changing procedure that gets people back to enjoying a more active life again.
What is aortic stenosis?
Aortic stenosis is a narrowing of the aortic valve opening that inhibits blood flow to the rest of the body. This condition causes your heart to work harder to pump blood out of the smaller opening, which eventually weakens the heart muscle. Most often, aortic stenosis is a condition of aging, as calcium builds up on the valve leaflets over time. Aortic stenosis can also be caused by a birth defect, radiation therapy or rheumatic fever.
What are the symptoms of aortic stenosis?
There are usually no symptoms of aortic stenosis early on in the disease process. Symptoms of aortic stenosis include shortness of breath with activity, chest pain, heart palpitations and fainting. Left untreated, severe, symptomatic aortic stenosis quickly becomes life-threatening — in as little as two years.
How does TAVR work?
During the TAVR procedure, your heart valve team inserts a new aortic valve within your diseased aortic valve, while the heart is still beating. We’ll discuss the exact procedure with you in depth, including how we’ll access the valve through a blood vessel (usually in the groin). In general, your doctors will:
- Place you in a state of conscious sedation, although we do use general anesthesia on rare occasion
- Make small incisions at your access point
- Using a thin tube called a catheter, place a biological tissue replacement valve into your own aortic valve; it becomes a “valve within a valve"
- Expand the new valve, which pushes the old valve leaflets out of the way so that the replacement valve can take over the job of regulating blood flow out of the heart
Who can have TAVR?
Many people are potential candidates for the TAVR procedure, including those who have previously had open heart surgery or have other health issues that make them poor candidates for traditional surgery. If you are a candidate, you will complete several diagnostic tests before your TAVR procedure. Your heart valve team will select the type of replacement valve and procedure approach best for your unique anatomy.
What are the benefits of TAVR?
Instead of opening your chest, surgeons can access the aortic valve through a small incision using a catheter. Generally, advantages of TAVR over traditional valve replacement surgery include:
- Faster recovery - There is no large incision.
- Shorter hospital stay - About 90 percent of our patients are discharged the day after their TAVR procedure, and most patients are discharged directly to home to complete their recovery.
- Often a viable treatment option for various ages and risk levels.
Find out if TAVR is right for you
Call to speak to a Franciscan Heart Valve Clinic Coordinator near you:
Franciscan Heart Valve Clinic
Two locations for our patients’ convenience:
Franciscan Cardiothoracic Surgery at St. Michael
Located in the St. Michael Medical Pavilion
1950 Northwest Myhre Road
Franciscan Cardiothoracic Surgery at St. Joseph
Located in the St. Joseph Medical Pavilion
1802 South Yakima Avenue, Suite 102
Surgeries and procedures performed at St. Joseph Medical Center
Patients can download Your Guide to Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR).
Your Heart Care Team
When Do You Need a Heart Specialist?
Your First Cardiology Visit
Recovering from Heart Surgery
Accepted Insurance Plans
Conditions We Treat
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms
> Aortic Stenosis
Arrhythmias and Atrial Fibrillation (Afib)
Chest Pain (Angina)
Deep Vein Thrombosis
Heart Valve Disease
Peripheral Vascular Disease
Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation
Why Choose Us for Heart Care?
Heart Health: Prevention and Support
Heart and Vascular Procedure Videos
Heart Resource Center