Valve Repair, Without Open Heart Surgery

Mercy now offers transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) for high-risk patients

Anthony Sonn, MD, Mercy Clinic Heart and Vascular

Mercy Heart and Vascular Hospital physicians are among only a few in the U.S. now offering the transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), an innovative procedure to replace narrowed or diseased aortic heart valves non-surgically using a catheter.

Many patients are not healthy or strong enough for traditional valve replacement surgery, which involves opening the patient’s chest and placing their heart on a bypass machine during the valve replacement.  With TAVR, Mercy specialists feed a catheter through a patient’s artery in the groin to their heart and replace the aortic valve from the inside.

“We are very excited to be selected as one of the sites to offer this procedure and we believe that TAVR can help a great number of patients here in St. Louis and surrounding areas,” said Anthony Sonn, MD, cardiologist with Mercy Clinic.

This innovative technology involves a bovine heart valve stitched inside a stainless steel scaffold, or stent. The Edwards SAPIEN transcatheter heart valve is crimped down onto a catheter which is then fed up through a patient’s femoral artery to the heart.  A tiny balloon temporarily inflates inside the stent, setting it in place and replacing the malfunctioning valve.

“The procedure is easier on patients than traditional surgery and recovery time is greatly diminished,” Dr. Sonn said. “TAVR will improve the quality of life and extend life expectancy for those who are not able to withstand open heart surgery.” 

Nearly 1.5 million people in the United States suffer from aortic stenosis, a progressive disease that affects the aortic valve of their hearts. Of those, approximately 250,000 suffer from severe aortic stenosis.

Patients who are interested in finding out if they’re a candidate for TAVR can contact The Center for Heart Valve Disease at Mercy Heart and Vascular Hospital, 314-251-5800.

To see an animation of the TAVR procedure click here.

Mercy is the sixth largest Catholic health care system in the U.S. and serves more than 3 million people annually. Mercy includes 31 hospitals, more than 200 outpatient facilities, 38,000 co-workers and 1,600 integrated physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has outreach ministries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. For more about Mercy, visit


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