What is it?

Transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) is a minimally invasive surgical procedure used to treat aortic stenosis, which is a condition where the aortic valve in the heart narrows and restricts blood flow.

During the TAVI procedure, a cardiologist will use a catheter (a thin, flexible tube) to insert a replacement valve through a small incision in the groin. The replacement valve is guided through the blood vessels and positioned inside the existing aortic valve. Once in place, the replacement valve is expanded, pushing the old valve aside and allowing blood to flow freely through the heart.

Who is it for?

TAVI is typically recommended for people who have severe aortic stenosis and are at high or intermediate risk for complications from traditional open-heart surgery. Some common risk factors for complications include advanced age, lung disease, kidney disease, and a history of stroke.

TAVI may also be an option for people who have previously undergone open-heart surgery and are at risk for complications from a second surgery.

Before undergoing TAVI, patients will undergo several tests to determine if they are a good candidate for the procedure. These may include imaging tests, such as echocardiogram or CT scans, as well as blood tests and a physical exam. A coronary angiogram will also (likely) be arranged.

What to expect on the day?

On the day of the TAVI procedure, patients will typically arrive at the hospital several hours before the scheduled procedure time. They will be admitted to a preoperative area where they will be prepared for the procedure.

During this time, patients may undergo additional tests, such as blood tests, electrocardiogram (ECG), or chest X-rays, to ensure that the procedure can proceed safely.

Patients will be asked to change into a hospital gown and will have an intravenous (IV) line inserted into a vein in their arm to administer medications and fluids during the procedure.

The procedure itself typically takes between two and four hours to complete. Patients will be given a local anaesthetic to numb the area where the catheter will be inserted, as well as a mild sedative to help them relax. Select patients have the procedure performed under general anaesthesia.

After the procedure, patients will be taken to a recovery area where they will be closely monitored for any complications. They will typically stay in the hospital for two or three days to recover before being discharged home.

Patients will need to take certain precautions after the procedure, such as avoiding lifting heavy objects and not raising their arms above their head for several weeks. They will also need to attend follow-up appointments with their cardiologist to ensure that the valve is working properly.

Overall, TAVI is a safe and effective procedure that can help improve the quality of life for people with severe aortic stenosis who are higher risk candidates for traditional open-heart surgery.