The heart is the pumping element of the human body. It pumps the blood into arteries which travel throughout the body. When the heart functions well, it can pump the blood enough to move it across all cells in the body. However, when its function is decreased due to any disease, there is a disruption in the blood flow. One such issue is aortic stenosis which is treated by TAVI procedure. To know about this TAVI procedure, first, we have to understand the concept of aortic valve stenosis.
Aortic Valve Stenosis
A Human heart has four valves to allow blood movement in the correct direction. It includes two valves (tricuspid valve, pulmonary valve) on the left and two (mitral valve and aortic valve) on the right. Each valve has a leaflet that fully opens and closes during a heartbeat. When these valves on either side do not open properly, blood flow is blocked.
The aortic valve stenosis disease is observed when the aortic valve between the left ventricle and the aorta (main artery) does not work properly. The aortic valve opening is narrowed, and thus blood flow is reduced. Therefore, the average heart must work harder to pump enough blood into the aorta. This increases strain on the heart and gradually weakens the heart muscle. It can lead to many serious health problems and, in some cases, heart failure.
Causes of aortic stenosis
- Congenital heart defect
- Large calcium deposits on the valve
- Rheumatic fever
Many people suffer due to aortic valve calcification. The calcium deposits stiffen the valve and reduce the blood flow into the main artery. Blood clots, heavy bleeding, strokes, heart rhythm problems, and heart failure are its complications. So, aortic stenosis should not be left untreated. Open-heart surgery or a TAVI procedure can help to deal with the issue.
A minimally invasive heart procedure is transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI), also known as TAVR (Transcatheter aortic valve replacement). It is performed on a patient to reduce the signs and symptoms of aortic valve stenosis. In general, an open-heart surgery where the chest is completely opened is preferred to treat such conditions. However, some people have other surgical aortic valve replacement complications. In such cases, Surgery specialists, analyze the situation and determine the best treatment option for the patient. Most preferably, the TAVI procedure is opted.
The TAVI procedure is the best alternate option for an open-heart surgery when patients deal with other health complications. A kidney or lung disease may increase further complications with open-heart surgeries, and doctors opt for TAVI. TAVI improves the quality of life. It offers many benefits as the choice is
- Less invasive
- Relatively a shorter procedure
- Offers less recovery time
- Rapid development in the quality of life
How to perform the TAVI procedure?
The TAVR procedure is performed using either of the two approaches:
- The Transfemoral approach or
- The Transapical approach.
The latter method is performed by creating a small incision in the chest. A patient needs to consult the doctor about the food habits, medications, their health conditions and any drug allergies. Before the procedure, a sedative is given to help the patient relax. An IV fluid is also injected into the forearm.
The doctor carefully inserts a catheter into a blood vessel during the TAVI procedure and guides it into the heart. Here, echocardiogram pictures help the doctor place the catheter correctly into the chest. Unlike open-heart surgery, small incisions are made in the chest to reach the heart. Then a replacement valve made of cow or pig tissue is inserted in the aortic valve area. A balloon on the hollow catheter tip inflates to position and fixes the new valve into place. Once the new valve is properly placed in the area, the catheter is removed. Vital signs, including blood pressure, heart rhythm, pulse, and breathing, are carefully monitored during the whole process.
What happens after the TAVI procedure?
A patient has to stay in the ICU for at least a day. After that, depending on his condition and disease complications, he is either discharged or still kept under observation. Several medications such as blood thinners and antibiotics are prescribed. The anti-coagulants prevent blood clots. And antibiotics protect from bacterial infections. As artificial heart valves get easily infected, it is essential to take some good antibiotics. Warning signs of infection include fever, swelling, increased pain, redness, or oozing at the catheter site. In any case, regular doctor check-ups are needed to check if the TAVI procedure went successful or not. Seek emergency help when
- There is chest pain or tightness
- Sudden shortness of breath
- Swelling of the ankles
The TAVI procedure is best for treating aortic stenosis in a short time. Today, people cannot afford to spend much time on their treatment. It can be either due to costs, hospital bills, treatment procedures, or simply lack of time. The TAVI is comparatively cost-effective and less time-consuming. The TAVI procedure reduces aortic stenosis by precisely opening up the closed aortic valve and allowing full blood flow movement. This treatment has to be balanced with food, medications, and regular doctor check-ups.