Diseased or damaged aortic valves may need to be replaced. This is usually done through open surgery. But some patients are too sick or frail for surgery. Now they have an alternative. It’s called trans-catheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR). This technique uses a special device that goes through the blood vessels. Only a small incision is required. TAVR is a riskier procedure than the open surgery. The FDA approved it last November. But not for everybody. Only for patients who were too sick or frail for open surgery. This month, the FDA panel expanded its approval. Now, TAVR may also become available in high-risk patients who are also eligible for surgery.
Lars Svensson, MD, PhD, and E. Murat Tuzcu, MD, have been studying TAVR at Cleveland Clinic since 2004. They were members of the Executive Committee of the study that earned TAVR its original approval. “The FDA’s recent decision is encouraging news,” says Dr. Svensson. “It opens up more options for high-risk surgical candidates.”