Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI)
The TAVI procedure is an option when a patient suffers from heart valve disease.
The procedure involves the implantation of a replacement valve using a long plastic tube called a catheter, and is usually inserted through the femoral artery in the groin.
The heart has four chambers and four valves that open and close to control the flow of blood in and out of the heart. Heart valves operate like one-way gates and their purpose is to make sure that blood only flows in one direction.
The Aortic Valve is positioned at the top of the left ventricle (the pumping chamber of the heart) separates the left ventricle from the aorta, the biggest blood vessel that carries oxygenated blood to your body. The valve has flaps (called cusps or leaflets) that are forced open when the left ventricle contracts, allowing blood to flow into the aorta. The flaps then close to prevent the blood from leaking back into the ventricle.
Aortic Valve Stenosis is the narrowing of the heart's aortic valve. It occurs when calcium deposits on the valve cause the flaps to become thickened and less mobile. As the condition worsens, the valve opening narrows, obstructing blood flow and forcing the heart to pump harder. This condition is more common in men.
- Shortness of breath on exertion
- Chest pain or tightness (angina) on exertion
- Feeling faint or fainting upon exertion
- Reduction in exercise capacity
Remember that heart valve disease often occurs with no outward symptoms and may go undetected. Treatment of severe symptomatic aortic stenosis is essential to prolong your life.
The replacement valve is made of natural tissue, from the heart of a pig or a cow, which is attached to a metal frame. This is then placed on to the tip of the catheter and guided to the correct position in the heart where it is implanted over the existing aortic valve.
Your doctor will make sure that your new valve is working properly before removing the sheath and closing the incision in your leg.
Benefits of TAVI versus Surgical Aortic Valve include:
- a shorter hospital stay - an average stay of 2-3 days can be expected
- faster recovery from the procedure
Potential risks of valve replacement vary from person to person depending on age, overall health, and other factors. Your doctor will discuss the risk in detail before you consent to the procedure.
- Death 1%
- Stroke 2-3%
- Pacemaker requirement 5-10%
- Vascular bleeding/injury 2%
- Conversion to emergency cardiac surgery 0.5-1%
A full dental check may be required before your procedure. After your procedure, it is very important that you tell your Dentist that you have a “TAVI artificial heart valve”. This is very important as you will need antibiotic cover for any dental procedures.