What is TAVI?

TAVI or Transcather aortic Valve implantation, as it is popularly known as is a minimally invasive medical procedure done for repairing a damaged aortic valve. During this procedure, the surgeon implants an artificial heart valve made from natural cow or pig heart tissue into your heart to repair or replace the damaged aortic valve without opening the chest.

Why is a TAVI surgery needed?

A TAVI surgery may be recommended by your doctor if you are suffering from aortic valve problems and the risk of open heart surgery is very high. This may be because the aortic valve is one of the main heart valves that helps in flowing of the blood from the heart to the rest of the body in an interrupted fashion. With age, you may experience calcium buildup in this valve making it thicker and harder. This makes it unable to open properly thus forcing the heart to work even harder to pump the blood through this narrowed pathway. This whole condition is known as aortic stenosis and often requires TAVI. The condition can lead to chest pain, breathlessness, dizziness and fatigue.

What are the risks associated with TAVI?

Though the TAVI procedure is a minimally invasive one with small cuts and incisions instead of a single large one, still there are certain risks that are still associated with it. These risks are as follows:

  • Vascular bleeding or injury
  • Arrhythmias or irregular beating of the heart which can further lead to requirement of a pacemaker
  • Aortic regurgitation
  • Obstruction in the coronary artery
  • Impairment of kidneys
  • Strokes
  • death

All the associated risks will be discussed by your doctor with you before the surgery.

How to prepare for TAVI?

While preparing for this procedure, follow the following steps:

  • Ensure that all your regular medications are being monitored by your doctor. These include your diabetes and other heart medicines too
  • Do not eat anything at least six hours before the surgery is scheduled
  • Do not drink any clear fluids at least two hours before the surgery

What Takes Place during TAVI procedure?

During a TAVI procedure, you will first be administered certain pain medications which will help in relaxing you for the procedure. Following this:

  • A local anesthesia or general anesthesia as per your requirement will be administered
  • Insertion of a balloon catheter would be done through the groin area
  • This catheter will be guided to your heart and positioned near the aortic valve opening
  • This opening of the valve will then be gradually opened up by inflating this balloon
  • A mesh metal tube is used for implanting the new aortic valve inside the heart
  • This new valve is then positioned in a way that it pushes aside the damages aortic valve
  • Lastly, the balloon is deflated and removed along with the catheter.

What happens after the TAVI?

After this procedure, you will be monitored closely by your doctor who will help you in your recovery on every step. Detailed instructions will be given on discharge that you need to follow so as to ensure complete recovery from the procedure. Do ensure that you show up for your regular follow up appointments so as to discuss any lingering effects and symptoms.

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