Ann Intern Med. 2021 Apr;174(4):521-528. doi: 10.7326/M21-0724. Epub 2021 Apr 13.
Aortic stenosis (AS) is common, especially among the elderly. Left untreated, severe symptomatic AS is typically fatal. Surgical aortic valve replacement (SAVR) was the standard of care until transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) was shown to have lower mortality rates in patients at the highest surgical risk and was recommended for this group in the 2014 American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology (AHA/ACC) guidelines. In the 2017 AHA/ACC focused update, evidence of benefit and noninferiority extended the use of TAVR to intermediate-risk patients. More recent studies suggest potential benefit to low-risk patients, although no published guidelines yet recommend the use of TAVR for this population. An advantage of SAVR is a 30-year experience with valve durability, but SAVR may have higher rates of perioperative death and a slower return of quality of life. Although TAVR has less than 10-year experience with valve durability, it has lower or noninferior primary end points, such as mortality and stroke, and fewer periprocedural complications among anatomically permissive patients. Here, a cardiologist and a cardiothoracic surgeon debate the risks and benefits of TAVR versus SAVR for a patient with severe symptomatic AS who is at low risk for surgical death.