Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation

Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation

A new option for replacing the aortic valve

Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI), recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration, is now available at Loyola. This minimally invasive procedure involves inserting a new valve into the heart through a catheter (a thin, flexible tube) threaded through a leg artery. Sometimes called a percutaneous valve replacement, it is an alternative to traditional open-heart surgery for patients who have severe heart valve disease and need one or more new aortic valves.

The valve device used in TAVI is a self-expanding prosthetic, tri-leaflet valve made from the pericardium (membrane enclosing the heart) of pigs with a nickel-titanium frame.

Replacement valve delivered using a thin tube

The CoreValve aortic prosthesis is designed to be inserted in a specialized delivery tube that is 6 millimeters in diameter. During the TAVI procedure, the delivery catheter containing the core valve is inserted into an introducing sheath. That sheath is in turn placed into the patient’s groin vessels or directly into the ascending aorta through a small 1-inch incision.

Initially a 2-centimeter diameter balloon is positioned across the diseased aortic valve and inflated to make room for the new valve. An interventional cardiologist and a heart surgeon then place the prosthetic valve directly over the diseased aortic valve; when the core valve is in the proper place, a control knob in the delivery catheter is activated, releasing it. The frame of the CoreValve expands within the aorta, firmly attaching itself to the aortic wall. Once the new valve is secured, the operators remove the delivery catheter and the new valve takes over the function of the old aortic valve. The prosthetic valve helps ensure that the oxygen-rich blood flows freely from the heart to the aorta and throughout the rest of the body.

There is hope that this technology could be the next great advance in the minimally invasive treatment of patients with heart disease, and Loyola is proud to have taken part in the clinical trials to test its safety and effectiveness.

Because transcatheter valve replacement is a minimally invasive procedure, it may offer benefits similar to other less invasive heart procedures, including smaller incisions and less scar tissue.

Other possible benefits may include:

  • Shorter hospital stays after surgery
  • Reduced risk of infection
  • Low risk of bleeding and the subsequent need for blood transfusions
  • Shorter recovery time and faster return to normal activities

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