An alternative to open-heart surgery, transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is a less-invasive heart-valve procedure for the treatment of severe aortic valve stenosis. The procedure, which involves threading a catheter through patients’ arteries to implant new aortic valves, has received high praise as a “technological leap” in treatment.
TAVR has been used as an alternative for patients where open-heart surgery is too risky. Despite the early success of the procedure, TAVR has higher rates of some serious complications, including blood vessel damage and stroke than traditional treatments.
Despite its initial praise, some doctors worry that the early excitement regarding TAVR can lead physicians to rely on the procedure even when it is not the best option. Currently the FDA requires that before patients can undergo the TAVR procedure, they must show that they “are not the right candidate” for traditional surgery. However, recent data show that more than half of Medicare patients who received catheter valves did not meet the FDA threshold for the procedure.
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