What is transcatheter aortic valve replacement or TAVI?

A cardiac treatment called TAVI is transforming the lives of heart patients who cannot have open surgery. In this blog consultant cardiologist Dr Iqbal Malik explains what it is and how it works. 

“If you have diseased heart valves but are perhaps too elderly or unwell to undergo standard surgery we can now offer you a less invasive procedure called transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVI). 

So far we have performed this procedure on over 550 patients, and the results have been extremely positive. You may have heard of this treatment as in 2019 it was reported that Mick Jagger, a very active man, chose TAVI over open heart surgery. The recovery is generally faster and the latest results appear very good. 

TAVI involves replacing a diseased or damaged heart valve, which control blood flow around the body, with a new one made from a metal frame (stent). 

The replacement valve is inserted using a catheter (hollow tube) through which the new valve can be delivered. The cardiologist makes a small cut in the groin or shoulder and the catheter is guided through an artery to the opening of the diseased valve. The new valve is gently expanded inside the damaged one and the catheter is removed. 

Local anaesthetic 

The operation lasts one to two hours and is performed under local anaesthetic in our state-of-the-art catheter theatres at Hammersmith Hospital. 

Heart valve disease usually results from ageing although you can be born with an abnormal valve. It can be life-threatening and symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue and swollen feet and ankles. In addition, it can cause blackouts and sudden death. 

The condition can have a significant impact on quality of life and TAVI has made a real difference to our patients. They are more active and feel less breathless and fatigued. 

The procedure is most suitable for older patients but also for people who are too unwell for open heart surgery. I have treated a 98-year-old and a patient in his 40s.  The most recent data suggests that TAVI may be suitable for lower risk patients also, as an alternative to open heart surgery. We make the decision on a case by case basis . 

Fast service 

Heart patients can be assured of a fast and safe service at Imperial Private Healthcare. The multi-disciplinary cardiac team of surgeons and cardiologists carefully assess each case and discuss the benefits and risks. Patients also undergo various screening tests, such as an echocardiogram (an ultrasound scan) and a CT scan, before they are recommended for treatment. 

From start to finish, the process is very rapid for patients. They can go home after two to three nights and do normal activities within a week or so.  Some activities, such as driving, will need to be restarted after one month 

Safe and effective 

We deliver a very safe and effective service for our patients. We are a very experienced and highly-skilled team which has performed a large number of procedures and our results are very good, even for high risk patients. 

We are a recognised centre of excellence and have the added benefit of being attached to a leading NHS Trust with the facilities of a specialist heart attack centre, renal transplant centre and a major vascular surgery centre. Our patients can be assured of the  very best care.” 

For further information please visit the cardiac services page on our website or contact one of our team via imperial.private.healthcare@nhs.net

Prior to October 2023, Imperial College Healthcare Private Care was known as Imperial Private Healthcare.