Health Library & Tools


Aspirus first in Wisconsin to perform new TAVR approach

Nov 13, 2012

Technique replaces heart valve through small incision in side of chest

More Info

For more information, go to or call the Valve Clinic at the Aspirus Heart & Vascular Institute at 877.974.3571.

WAUSAU, Wis. – On November 7, Aspirus Wausau Hospital became the first hospital in Wisconsin to perform a transcatheter aortic valve replacement procedure (TAVR) using the new transapical approach.

The transapical approach was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on October 19 for the treatment of severe aortic stenosis, a condition that causes the aortic valve to narrow and restrict the flow of blood from the heart. This new approach allows physicians to insert a new heart valve through a small incision in the side of the chest.

Physicians at the Aspirus Heart & Vascular Institute began performing TAVR procedures in May using a transfemoral approach, via an artery in the groin. The new approach is approved for both non-operative and high-risk patients.

“High-risk patients with severe aortic stenosis weren’t eligible for TAVR prior to the transapical approach being approved,” said Ronald Miles, M.D., cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon at Aspirus. “With this additional method available, a considerably broader group of patients can now be treated using a minimally invasive approach.”

In both approaches to the TAVR procedure, a collapsible aortic heart valve is guided into the heart through a catheter. Once the new valve reaches the site of the diseased valve, the replacement valve is positioned and deployed across the patient's own narrowed valve. This is all done while the heart is still beating.

Symptoms of severe aortic stenosis range from difficulty breathing and chest pain, to exercise-induced dizziness and collapse. It often occurs as a degenerative disease in older adults.

“Studies have shown that 50 percent of patients with severe aortic stenosis survive an average of only two years after the onset of symptoms if they don’t have a valve replacement procedure,” said German Larrain, M.D., cardiologist at Aspirus Cardiovascular Associates. “TAVR allows us to treat people who previously didn’t have any options available for extending their lives outside of high-risk open heart surgery.”

To determine if someone is a candidate for a TAVR procedure, an evaluation team at the Valve Clinic at the Aspirus Heart & Vascular Institute will perform a thorough assessment that includes various tests to determine the severity of the aortic stenosis.