MemorialCare Saddleback Medical Center is offering a minimally invasive procedure for select patients diagnosed with severe symptomatic aortic stenosis, or a narrowing of the aortic heart valve, who may not be candidates for traditional open heart surgery. Called transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), the procedure allows for a heart valve to be inserted through the groin with a catheter instead of having to open up the chest.

Symptomatic severe aortic stenosis is a condition caused by calcium buildup on the aortic valve flaps that open and close to allow blood to pass from the heart to the rest of the body. As a person ages, the calcium build up can restrict normal blood flow through the valve. As a result, the heart has to work harder than normal.

Symptoms of severe aortic stenosis include shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, swollen ankles and feet and lightheadedness or dizziness. Diagnostic procedures ordered by the patient’s physician can help determine if aortic stenosis is present and if so, the severity of the condition.

Patients found to be at intermediate or greater risk for severe aortic stenosis may be referred to Saddleback Medical Center’s specially trained cardiologists and surgeons for further assessment to determine if the TAVR or another procedure is preferred.

“With TAVR, a new heart valve is inserted directly within the diseased aortic valve through a small incision in the groin,” explains Michael Gault, M.D., Medical Director of Cardiology at Saddleback Medical Center. “Other approaches include either insertion into the clavicle area or into the chest between the ribs or into the upper chest. Once in place, the new valve begins to work immediately. The total procedure time ranges from one to two hours.”

This less invasive approach leads to a faster recovery with patients typically able to leave the hospital in two to three days. This is often followed by a regimen of outpatient cardiac rehabilitation at Saddleback Medical Center.

To learn more about TAVR and MemorialCare Saddleback Medical Center, visit our section on TAVR.