New Method for Aortic Valve Replacement Proves Successful in High-Risk Patients
Researchers at NIH have developed a new, less invasive way to perform transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), a procedure widely used to treat aortic valve stenosis, a lethal heart condition. The new approach, called transcaval access, will make TAVR more available to high-risk patients, especially women, whose femoral arteries are too small or diseased to withstand the standard procedure. The Journal of the American College of Cardiology published the findings.
Aortic valve stenosis involves the narrowing of the heart’s aortic valve, which reduces blood flow through the heart. For about 85 percent of patients with this condition, doctors typically perform TAVR through the femoral artery in the leg. But for the other 15 percent, doctors must find a different access route. The most common alternative routes are through the chest, which requires surgery and are associated with significantly more complications.
Transcaval access, which can be performed in awake patients, involves electrifying a small wire so that it crosses between neighboring blood vessels in the abdomen. The technique calls for making large holes in both the abdominal aorta and the inferior vena cava, which physicians previously considered dangerous because of the risk of fatal bleeding.
The new method was developed by researchers at NHLBI and tested in a trial on 100 patients at 20 hospitals across the United States. Researchers said it proved successful in 99 of the patients.