TAVI - Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation
The TAVI procedure is used to treat aortic stenosis (narrowing of the aorta). One of the four heart valves is called the aortic valve, which is situated at the top of the left ventricle and leads to the aorta (the major blood vessel that circulates oxygenated blood around your body). If aortic stenosis occurs, this means that the aortic valve cannot open fully, which leads to a restriction in blood flow and forces the heart to work harder to pump blood through.
The TAVI procedure involves inserting a new valve on top of the old, damaged valve. The procedure usually takes one to two hours and is carried out under local anaesthetic (meaning you are awake but don’t feel anything). Generally, patients will come to the hospital on the day of the TAVI procedure and stay in for between two and five days.
TAVI is performed by an interventional cardiologist. During the procedure, the doctor makes a small incision in the groin or under the collarbone. A small tube (catheter) with a balloon tip is then inserted into the artery at the groin or shoulder. This catheter is then passed into the heart via the artery and the doctor positions it in the opening of the aortic valve. Once in place, the doctor gently inflates the balloon to make space for the new tissue valve. The new valve is passed through the catheter and placed on top of the old, malfunctioning valve. The new valve expands to fill the space. The balloon is then deflated and the catheter and balloon are removed, leaving the new valve in place.
Recovery from the procedure is usually quick, patients are usually sitting out of bed the day after the procedure. Pain killers can be given to reduce and post-procedural pain. Most patients return home within a few days of the TAVI procedure. It can take 2-3 months for a full recovery but this varies greatly from one patient to another.
Your cardiologist will discuss the benefits and risks of the procedure beforehand. TAVI is a relatively new procedure with promising results, however, because it is new there is limited information on long term results.