What is TAVI?

TAVI stands for transcatheter aortic valve implantation. It is an advanced procedure in which a team of specially trained consultants replace narrowed heart valves without the need for open heart surgery.

TAVI, which has been performed at James Cook since November 2009, is a much less invasive alternative, where patients are fitted with new heart valves through a small cut which is made in their groin or chest. Most cases are performed under local anaesthetic, where the skin is numb and you are awake.

It also dramatically cuts the length of recovery and patients are up and about within a few hours of their procedure. Most patients only need to stay one night in hospital.

The specialist technique can only be performed at accredited hospitals and involves a number of consultants. Each procedure involves two interventional cardiologists and a cardiac anaesthetist, with additional involvement of heart surgeons and imaging cardiologists in some cases.

What is aortic stenosis?

Aortic stenosis is when the main valve which allows blood to flow from the heart around the body has become narrowed. It can lead to symptoms such as chest pain, breathlessness, fainting and, if left untreated, life-threatening heart failure.