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Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement in San Angelo

Shannon offers an innovative procedure for cardiac patients with severe aortic stenosis who may be high-risk or too sick for traditional open-heart surgery. Called TAVR (transcatheter aortic valve replacement), the minimally invasive procedure provides an alternative that can vastly improve quality of life and provide hope for patients. Currently, Shannon is the only hospital in the region to offer this procedure.

What Is Aortic Valve Stenosis?

The aortic valve controls blood flow to the body (except the lungs). Buildup of calcium deposits from degenerative disease can cause severe aortic stenosis, which prevents the aortic valve from opening and closing properly. This makes it harder for the heart to pump blood to the rest of the body. A diseased valve greatly affects your health and limits daily activities.

Symptoms of aortic valve disease include:

  • Progressive shortness of breath
  • Progressive fatigue, especially noted by family members and loved ones
  • Palpitations, irregular heartbeat
  • Swelling of the feet
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness; episodes of passing out “spells”

Along with these symptoms, cardiologists will listen for a heart murmur in patients and order an echocardiogram to confirm the diagnosis. If left untreated, this condition can lead to fatality within 12 months.

Treatment Options

Mild aortic stenosis may be treated with medication to help regulate the heartbeat and prevent blood clots. For more severe cases, specialists may recommend replacing the aortic valve with an artificial valve from man-made materials or a biologic valve from animal tissue. Traditionally, this is performed through surgical aortic valve replacement. It is an open procedure with a “sternotomy”, accessing the heart through the sternum and breastbone – what most people refer to as “open heart surgery”. This method is still recommended for some patients. It usually requires a 5-6 day stay in the hospital and several weeks of recovery.

For patients who are medium to high-risk or too sick to undergo an open procedure, TAVR is a minimally invasive catheter-based procedure that repairs the valve without removing the old, damaged valve. It instead places a replacement valve into the existing aortic valve, similar to inserting a stent into an artery. A thin, flexible catheter tube is inserted into the femoral artery through a small incision in the groin area. A cardiac team of cardiovascular surgeons, interventional cardiologists, nurses, and imaging specialists uses special technology and imaging to guide the valve through the tube to its destination and then deploys it in the precise location.

What to Expect During and After TAVR

A TAVR procedure lasts between 1-2 hours and is performed in Shannon’s Hybrid Operating Room. Patients will be under general anesthesia. The procedure does not require stopping the heart, and there is no need for a cardiopulmonary bypass. Patients will usually stay in the hospital for 2 days and most begin walking within a day of their procedure.

Most patients start feeling better and will see improvement in their symptoms right away. Patients should be able to resume daily activities within a week. They will have multiple follow-up visits with both the cardiovascular surgeons and interventional cardiologists following the procedure.

If you are experiencing symptoms of aortic valve disease or would like more information about available treatment options, contact Shannon at 325.747.2281.

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