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Transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI)

Transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) is a keyhole operation to correct problems with your aortic valve

Latex gloved hand prepares for a transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) procedure
Transcatheter aortic valve implantation, often referred to as TAVI, is a type of keyhole heart surgery. It is used to treat problems with your aortic valve, which is the valve that controls blood flow from your heart to the rest of your body. Problems with your aortic valve are known collectively as aortic valve diseases. The most common are aortic stenosis and aortic regurgitation.

If you are too weak to have open heart surgery to replace your heart valve, you can have it replaced with TAVI, which is a minimally invasive keyhole operation that doesn't require a large incision. Another benefit is that your heart doesn't need to be stopped temporarily, as it is in certain other types of heart surgery.

Your TAVI procedure with Circle Health Group

At Circle Health Group, we have a large network of consultant cardiologists and cardiac surgeons who can assess your heart problems and perform TAVI surgery if needed. To find out more, you can call a member of our advisory team on on 0141 300 5009, or book your initial consultation with a specialist online.

The cost of your TAVI procedure depends on a variety of factors, including which hospital and which consultant you choose, as well as how long you need to stay in hospital. Call today to speak to our advisors and get a tailored quote.

Our fixed-price packages include the cost of your surgery and all appropriate aftercare appointments. However, any pre-surgery diagnostic tests and your consultant’s outpatient appointment consultation fee are charged separately.

Our flexible payment options help you spread the cost of your payment across a time period that suits you. We offer fixed-term monthly payment plans over one to five years with no deposit required. If you decide to pay over 10 months, you will pay interest-free. If you are paying for a longer period, you will pay 14.9% APR.

If you have private health insurance, heart surgery will usually be covered by your provider. Speak to your insurer directly to find out.

There are various problems that can affect how your aortic valve works, which are known collectively as aortic valve disease. The most common two conditions are:

Aortic stenosis

This is when the aortic valve becomes narrowed, restricting blood flow out of your heart. Aortic stenosis doesn't cause symptoms in its early stages, but it can weaken your heart and lead to heart failure at a later stage if left untreated.

Aortic regurgitation

This is when your aortic valve allows blood to flow back into your heart. Similarly to aortic stenosis, symptoms of aortic regurgitation may be mild or even unnoticeable at first, however in the long term the condition can be very dangerous.

Not everyone experiences symptoms of aortic stenosis, or aortic heart valve disease in general. If you do experience symptoms, you might have one or more of the following: 

  • Chest pain
  • A rapid, fluttering heartbeat
  • Trouble breathing or breathlessness
  • Feeling dizzy or light-headed
  • Fainting
  • Difficulty walking short distances
  • Swollen ankles or feet

If you have any of the above symptoms, it's important to speak to a doctor as soon as possible. A consultant cardiologist will be able to assess your heart health, identify any problems and - if necessary - arrange for a TAVI procedure to correct your aortic valve disease.

TAVI can be performed under either local or general anaesthetic. General anaesthesia is when you're unconscious and unaware of the procedure. Local anaesthesia is when the operated part of your body is numbed and you are awake during the procedure. Your consultant will decide which of these is the best option for you, depending on your circumstances.

Your consultant will begin by making a small incision, either in your groin or under your collarbone, and inserting a catheter (a hollow tube) with a balloon at its tip into one of your arteries. This catheter is passed along your artery and into your heart, and placed within the opening of your aortic valve. Your consultant will gently inflate the balloon to widen the space in the valve, making room for replacement valve tissue. 

Your new valve will either expand itself or be expanded by your consultant using the balloon. This depends on which type of valve is used. The new artificial valve is usually made of a metal tube (stent) as well as porcine (pig) or bovine (cow) tissue. After your new valve has been fitted properly, your consultant will delate the balloon, remove the catheter, and close the small incision with a device that effectively seals the blood vessel.

The procedure usually takes around one to two hours to perform. 

Your consultant will usually ask that you avoid taking any medication, for example blood thinners, the morning of your operation. You will also be asked to not eat or drink from midnight onwards the night before having TAVI. 

You will not be able to drive yourself home after surgery, so you will need to arrange for a friend or family member to collect you before you have surgery. Alternatively, we are happy to arrange for a taxi to pick you up from whichever one of our hospitals you choose to have surgery at.

Your consultant and healthcare team will ensure you feel prepared for the surgery by giving you as much information as possible beforehand and answering any questions you might have. 

Everybody recovers from TAVI at a different rate. Your recovery depends on several factors, including your age and general health. Most people recover within ten weeks, but your consultant will be able to provide you with an exact recovery timeline tailored to your circumstances.

Recovering in hospital

Your nurse will check your heart rate and blood pressure immediately after the procedure to ensure your heart rhythm is healthy. They will also tend to the area where your consultant made the incision to ensure that it is not bleeding. If the catheter was placed in your groin, you will need to lie still and keep your leg straight for a few hours. You might have a bruise or a small lump where the catheter was put into your blood vessel. This is normal and will go away on its own, so don't worry.

You usually need to stay in hospital to rest and have your heart health monitored for around 48 hours after a TAVI procedure. During this time the bruising around your incision will slowly heal. We recommend arranging for someone to stay with you to support you with everyday tasks when you return from hospital. This could be for a week or two while you regain your strength and get back to everyday life.

Recovering at home

You must not drive for four weeks after the date of your procedure. You will also need to take two to three weeks off work to rest, but this depends on what you do for a living. For example, if you have a manual job that requires you to lift heavy equipment, you will have to take longer off work. Your consultant will advise how much leave is needed in your particular circumstances. 

You should incorporate gentle daily exercise into your routine after surgery and build up your exercise levels slowly. Do not overexert yourself and only return to strenuous activities, such as sport, when your consultant advises.

You will have regular follow-up appointments

You consultant will provide you with an exact recovery timeline based on your circumstances, and your healthcare team will be able to answer any questions you might have about your recovery in lots of detail. You will have regular follow-up appointments with your consultant to monitor your recovery and heart health, so you will be supported throughout your recovery journey.

TAVI is a safe and commonly performed procedure with high success rates. Like any procedure, it carries with it some risks, including bleeding, infection, and stroke.

Speak with your consultant about these risk factors. They will reassure you that they are rare and that TAVI is a safe procedure with many benefits, including restored heart health and a significantly improved quality of life.

When you choose to go private with Circle Health Group, you can expect:

  • Flexible appointment times and locations to fit your routine
  • The freedom to choose which hospital and consultant suit your needs
  • Personalised, consultant-led treatment plans tailored to your individual needs
  • Comfortable and safe private facilities maintained by expert multidisciplinary teams
  • Support by the same compassionate clinical team from beginning to end
  • Affordable, fixed-price packages with aftercare included
  • Flexible payment options to help you spread the cost of your care

If you would like to learn more about this procedure, book your appointment online today or call a member of our team directly on 0141 300 5009.

Content reviewed by Circle in-house team in July 2022. Next review due July 2025.

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