Transapical Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation in Humans: Initial Clinical Experience

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Background—Aortic valve replacement with cardiopulmonary bypass is currently the treatment of choice for symptomatic aortic stenosis but carries a significant risk of morbidity and mortality, particularly in patients with comorbidities. Recently, percutaneous transfemoral aortic valve implantation has been proposed as a viable alternative in selected patients. We describe our experience with a new, minimally invasive, catheter-based approach to aortic valve implantation via left ventricular apical puncture without cardiopulmonary bypass or sternotomy.Methods and Results—A left anterolateral intercostal incision is used to expose the left ventricular apex. Direct needle puncture of the apex allows introduction of a hemostatic sheath into the left ventricle. The valve prosthesis, constructed from a stainless steel stent with an attached trileaflet equine pericardial valve, is crimped onto a valvuloplasty balloon. The prosthetic valve and balloon catheter are passed over a wire into the left ventricle. Positioning within the aortic annulus is confirmed by fluoroscopy, aortography, and echocardiography. Rapid ventricular pacing is used to reduce cardiac output while the balloon is inflated, deploying the prosthesis within the annulus. Transapical aortic valve implantation was successfully performed in 7 patients in whom surgical risk was deemed excessive because of comorbidities. Echocardiographic median aortic valve area increased from 0.7±0.1 cm2 (interquartile range) to 1.8±0.8 cm2 (interquartile range). There were no intraprocedural deaths. At a follow up of 87±56 days, 6 of 7 patients remain alive and well.Conclusions—This initial experience suggests that transapical aortic valve implantation without cardiopulmonary bypass is feasible in selected patients with aortic stenosis.

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