If you are an adult in need of an aortic valve replacement and not well enough to have heart valve surgery, you may be given a TAVI procedure instead.

What happens during a TAVI?

Before your TAVI procedure, you will be given a general or local anaesthetic.

  1. A catheter (hollow tube) with a balloon at its tip is inserted into an artery either in your groin or under your collarbone.
  2. The catheter is passed into your heart and positioned within the opening of the aortic valve.
  3. Then the balloon is gently inflated to make room for the new tissue valve, which is placed in position. 
  4. The new valve either expands by itself or is expanded using the balloon, depending on which type of valve is used.
  5. The balloon is deflated before the balloon and catheter are removed. 
  6. The new valve now sits inside your damaged valve.

Another way to perform this procedure is to make a cut between two of your ribs and insert a catheter, with a balloon on the tip, directly into the left ventricle and across the narrowed valve. This is called a transapical approach and is far less common.

How long will it take me to recover?

If all goes well, you will be helped to sit out of bed the day after the procedure. You can expect some discomfort after your operation and you will be given pain relief medication. Your pain level will be monitored to make sure you are as comfortable as possible. Many people return home within about a week. On average, it takes between 2-3 months to fully recover, but this can vary greatly as it depends on your individual condition.

If you would like more information on Heart Valve Disease or Having Heart Surgery, you should speak with your doctor or call our Heart Helpline on 0300 330 3311.

What are the benefits and risks of this treatment?

Your cardiologist should discuss the risks and benefits with you before the procedure is performed. As a TAVI is still a new procedure, its long-term benefits are not known. At the moment, if you need to have an aortic valve replacement, you are still more likely to be offered heart valve surgery.

If you have a heart valve problem or have had surgery on your valve, you are at risk of developing endocarditis. You are also at risk if you have had endocarditis before.

Endocarditis is a rare but serious condition where the inner lining of the heart becomes infected. This most commonly takes place in one of the heart valves.

Until recently, people at risk of endocarditis were advised to take antibiotics before having dental treatment and some other procedures. However, that is no longer recommended. You can find more information on NHS Choices. You can also check out our Endocarditis warning cards.

Will I have to take any medication afterwards?

The new valve that is implanted is a tissue (animal) valve, so you would not need warfarin over the long term but would need to take blood-thinning medicine such as aspirin or clopidogrel for the rest of your life.

It is important that you speak to your doctor or pharmacist before you take any medicines in addition to those you have been prescribed.

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