Talk to your doctor if you have any questions about the procedure.
Preparing for a TAVI procedure
To prepare for surgery, you will need to undergo several tests to check that you are healthy enough to proceed with the operation. This may include:
- X-rays and other imaging scans
- Blood tests to determine the health of your heart and lungs
- Echocardiogram to evaluate the function of your aortic valve
- Cardiac catheterisation to evaluate the arteries supplying blood to the heart.
During a TAVI procedure
During a TAVI, a small cut is made near the groin. Next, guiding catheter (a thin and flexible tube) is inserted to implant the aortic valve, using the following steps.
Step 1: Balloon Valvuloplasty
Guided by a catheter, an inflatable balloon is first inserted into your aorta to open up the heart valve.
Step 2: Aortic Arch Navigation
The transcatheter heart valve is guided through your artery into your heart.
Step 3: Native Valve Crossing
The artificial valve is placed in position in preparation for deployment.
Step 4: Deployment
The inflatable balloon is used to deploy and lock the valve in place. There are also other TAVR / TAVI valves that are self-expanding and do not need a balloon for deployment.
Step 5: Final Assessment
The catheter is removed and the new valve is now working in place of the original diseased valve.
Watch a video of the TAVR / TAVI procedure here:
After a TAVI procedure
Following the procedure, you may have to spend 2 – 4 days recovering in the hospital, which may include a period of observation at the intensive care unit (ICU), before you can be discharged.
Your doctor may recommend that you make healthy lifestyle changes, such as eating a heart-healthy diet, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding smoking.
Recovery period for a TAVI procedure
Complete recovery may take several weeks and varies depending on your health. During this time, it is important to care for the incision site carefully to prevent infection and take any medication that has been prescribed. You should also walk around as much as possible but avoid heavy lifting or strenuous activity.
Follow your doctor’s advice on when you can resume normal daily activities such as driving or going back to work. Cardiac rehabilitation may be recommended to help improve exercise tolerance, functional capacity, and quality of life.
Risks/complications of a TAVI procedure
All medical procedures come with some type of risk. Complications from TAVI may include:
- Infections that affect the heart
- Vascular damage or injury from the insertion of the catheter
- Valve leakage, possibly caused by a replacement valve that is too small or one that did not fully expand
- Disruption of the heart’s electrical system, which may require the use of a pacemaker
- Kidney damage from the contrast dye used for imaging
- Perforation or tearing of the artery
- Decreased blood supply to your brain, causing a stroke
- Death, often resulting from the patient’s poor health prior to undergoing surgery and/or high risk profile