Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey
195 Little Albany Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08903-2681
If you have a severe problem with the aortic valve in your heart, and you can’t have open-heart surgery, your doctor may recommend a transcatheter aortic valve implantation.
Your aortic valve is one of the four valves in your heart.
It lies between your left ventricle, or left lower chamber,
and the large blood vessel supplying oxygen-rich blood to your body, called the aorta.
When your left ventricle contracts during each heartbeat, it pushes blood through three flexible cup-like leaflets that make up your aortic valve.
When your left ventricle relaxes, your aortic valve closes to prevent blood from flowing back into your left ventricle.
As you get older,
your aortic valve may develop deposits of calcium that cause your leaflets to get thicker and less flexible.
In this condition, your leaflets may not open fully.
This condition, called calcific aortic valve stenosis, creates a narrowed opening that reduces the amount of blood flowing into your aorta and out to your body.
The narrowed valve opening strains your heart because it has to pump harder to move enough oxygen-rich blood to your body.
At the beginning of your procedure, your doctor will make a small incision in your groin.
After creating an opening in a blood vessel, called the femoral artery,
your doctor will insert a flexible tube, called an introducer sheath.
Through the sheath, your doctor will insert a flexible guide wire into your femoral artery.
The guide wire will be passed through your femoral artery all the way up to your aorta.
Then, the guide wire will be pushed through the opening in your aortic valve and into your left ventricle.
Your doctor will use the guide wire to pass a flexible tube, called a catheter, through your aortic valve.
A balloon on the tip of the catheter will be inflated to widen the opening in your aortic valve and push the valve leaflets to the sides.
After deflating the balloon, your doctor will remove the catheter.
The replacement valve consists of a tissue valve surrounded by a wire mesh, called a stent.
The replacement valve will be compressed and placed on the tip of another catheter.
This catheter will be inserted through your aortic valve.
When the catheter reaches the opening in your aortic valve, your surgeon will inflate a balloon underneath the replacement valve to expand it and the stent.
After placement of the new aortic valve, your surgeon will deflate the balloon.
The stent will support and secure the replacement valve in place.
The catheter and guide wire will be removed.
At the end of your procedure, the introducer sheath in your groin will be removed.
Your skin incision will be closed with stitches.
You will have another incision on the other side of your groin through which instruments were inserted to monitor your heart during the procedure.
This skin incision will be closed in a similar manner.