Preinterventional screening of the TAVI patient: how to choose the suitable patient and the best procedure
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- O’Sullivan, C.J., Stortecky, S., Buellesfeld, L. et al. Clin Res Cardiol (2014) 103: 259. doi:10.1007/s00392-014-0676-4
Transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) is a novel therapy, which has transformed the management of inoperable patients presenting with symptomatic severe aortic stenosis (AS). It is also a proven and less invasive alternative therapeutic option for high-risk symptomatic patients presenting with severe AS who are otherwise eligible for surgical aortic valve replacement. Patient age is not strictly a limitation for TAVI but since this procedure is currently restricted to high-risk and inoperable patients, it follows that most patients selected for TAVI are at an advanced age. Patient frailty and co-morbidities need to be assessed and a clinical judgment made on whether the patient will gain a measureable improvement in their quality of life. Risk stratification has assumed a central role in selecting suitable patients and surgical risk algorithms have proven helpful in this regard. However, limitations exist with these risk models, which must be understood in the context of TAVI. When making final treatment decisions, it is essential that a collaborative multidisciplinary “heart team” be involved and this is stressed in the most recent guidelines of the European Society of Cardiology. Choosing the best procedure is contingent upon anatomical feasibility, and multimodality imaging has emerged as an integral component of the pre-interventional screening process in this regard. The transfemoral route is now considered the default approach although vascular complications remain a concern. A minimal vessel diameter of 6 mm is required for currently commercial available vascular introducer sheaths. Several alternative access routes are available to choose from when confronted with difficult iliofemoral anatomy such as severe peripheral vascular disease or diffuse circumferential vessel calcification. The degree of aortic valve leaflet and annular calcification also needs to be assessed as the latter is a risk factor for post-procedural paravalvular aortic regurgitation. The ultimate goal of patient selection is to achieve the highest procedural success rate while minimizing complications and to choose patients most likely to derive tangible benefit from this procedure.