Surgical and transcatheter valve repair and replacement is the process of either using a tube or conducting surgery to recover the flood flow within your heart.

What does it do?

In the simplest terms possible, surgical and transcatheter valve repair and replacement helps fix the narrowing of an aortic valve or aortic stenosis.

There are four valves in your heart. An aortic valve is one of the four valves in your heart that is located between the left ventricle and the aorta.

Aortic stenosis is the narrowing of the valve in the large blood vessel branching off the heart.

How does it work?

Your mitral valves can malfunction for many reasons, including an abnormality at birth, or as a result of rheumatic fever, heart disease or an infection. When your mitral valve doesn’t fully open or close, we can repair or replace it.

One type of repair for a narrowing, or stenotic mitral valve, involves inserting a catheter (flexible tube for medical purposes) with a small balloon on the end into your valve and expanding it to “stretch” the valve open. If you have a leaking or regurgitant valve, the separations or ruptures are repaired with sutures. When your valve is weak or “floppy,” it can be tightened. CVTI’s rate of successful mitral valve repairs is one of the highest in the region.

If your mitral valve cannot be repaired, your CVTI team can replace your damaged valve with a mechanical valve, made from man-made materials; or a biological valve, taken from pig, cow or human donors. To choose the best valve for you, your team will consider factors such as your age, overall health, occupation, the size of your valve and how well your heart is working.

If your aortic stenosis is severe and your CVTI team feels open surgery would be too risky due to your age, heart health or other medical conditions, we offer a less invasive procedure — the Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR). The TAVR is a less invasive procedure, where the new valve is placed inside your damaged aortic valve while your heart is still beating.

The TAVR procedure can be performed through two different approaches — through a small incision made in the leg or through an incision made between the ribs. Your CVTI team will decide the best approach based on your specific case. Once your new TAVR valve is inserted, it will begin to work immediately, functioning just like a normal, healthy heart valve. This exciting, state-of-the-art procedure is performed in less time than open heart surgery and requires only days of recovery, compared to months with open heart surgery.

What benefits will you receive when you go through the procedure?

There are numerous benefits to repairing the mitral valve instead of replacing it:

  • Better preservation of heart function
  • Lower risk of complications
  • No need for long-term use of blood thinners

When will someone need it?

If you’ve been diagnosed with a narrowing of your aortic valve or aortic stenosis, your USC CardioVascular Thoracic Institute team is ready to discuss the latest treatment options available. We actively participate in heart valve research and clinical trials in order to bring you the most advanced innovations for valve repair and replacement. By collaborating with cardiac and medical specialists on new methods of treatment, specialized devices and minimally invasive procedures, we are at the forefront of the newest techniques. We not only perform valve repairs and replacements, but also train other physicians around the country on how to perform these life-saving treatments. Surgical valve replacement and Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) are just two of the ways we can treat your aortic stenosis.

How do the doctors get involved?

“An integrated program, we’re not an institute in name only. Our cardiologists and surgeons consult together to determine the optimal treatment plan based on an individual patient need.”

Vaughn A. Starnes, MD, Executive Director of the USC Cardiovascular Thoracic Institute

How can I see if I qualify?

At the CardioVascular Thoracic Institute (CVTI) at Keck Medicine of USC, we understand the worry and concern you and your family have when facing serious cardiovascular and thoracic conditions such as aortic stenosis.

Our experienced, multidisciplinary teams of cardiologists, surgeons and specialists understand that every patient is unique. That’s why your care is personalized with an individual treatment plan designed for your specific heart, lung or vascular condition.

We bring together more than 200 cardiothoracic surgeons, cardiologists, vascular surgeons and cardiovascular specialists to provide care that puts you first. From state-of-the-art screening tests and diagnostic imaging to non-invasive heart valve replacement and transplant surgery, your CVTI team can provide you with the leading-edge, quality care you need.

If you are in Southern California, you can see if you qualify by scheduling an appointment by calling (800) USC – CARE (800-872-2273) or by visiting

If you are outside of our coverage network, you can check with your local health care provider.

Why Keck Medicine of USC?

Your USC CVTI team understands how stressful these diagnoses can be. That’s why we offer compassion, empathy and open communication — to build the trust that’s necessary for you to feel confident in the care you receive and to determine which treatment options are good for you. Not only are you kept in constant communication about your treatment, but your referring physician is also consulted and treated as an important member of the team. We provide a patient coordinator to ensure all calls are promptly returned and all questions thoroughly answered. Your USC CVTI surgeons and cardiologists meet and brainstorm weekly to discuss your case and update your individual plan of aortic stenosis care. It is our goal to treat you with respect, sensitivity and understanding every step of the way with personalized therapies and treatments to get you back to the life you enjoy and deserve.  

See if you qualify by scheduling an appointment by calling (800) USC – CARE (800-872-2273) or by visiting