Patients who are too sick to withstand open heart surgery now have a new life- saving option. It's called Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR).
Charles Richardson, 86, had aortic stenosis. His aortic heart valve had severely narrowed and needed to be replaced but he was too sick for open heart surgery. Luckily, Richardson was a good candidate for the new, less invasive heart valve replacement procedure. "Before I had the procedure, I was dead tired, fatigued all the time, short of breath," said Richardson.
"We put a small needle in the groin and then we upsize that to a bigger size sheath. And through that sheath we are able to advance this valve that's cramped on a balloon up though the aorta into the old valve, and then place the new valve inside the old valve," according to Dr. Wissam Gharib, a cardiologist from the WVU Heart Institute. The procedure's main benefit is for inoperable patients to relieve stenosis from the valve. "The other benefit is that high risk patients now have another option of having a procedure that carries the same benefit of a minimally invasive fashion to get this valve replaced," said Gharib.
The TAVR procedure also requires a shorter recovery time and most patients feel relief almost immediately. " I could certainly tell the difference when I became conscious after this procedure. I was 100 percent better. Amazing," said Richardson.