Cardiology | TAVR: Clearing Hurdles to Become an Established Treatment
As he watched many older inoperable patients grow weak and die from calcific aortic stenosis in the 1980s, Alain Cribier, MD, FACC, focused on finding a solution. In 1985, he performed the first balloon aortic valvuloplasty, but soon realized its initial success would not last because of restenosis. In the 1990s, he began exploring the possibility of using a balloon-expandable valve stent to prevent restenosis and replace the diseased aortic valve. The technology of the time, though, made the procedure an imposing challenge.
After dedicating years to searching for a solution for patients with aortic stenosis, Cribier did not let this criticism get in his way. He went to his university's autopsy lab, where he placed 23-mm stents in fresh specimens of aortic stenosis so he could validate the concept of aortic valve stenting and disprove the naysayers. On April 16, 2002, that wild idea finally became a reality when Cribier and his colleagues percutaneously implanted an aortic valve bioprosthesis – the first transcatheter aortic valve replacement now known as TAVR.