Aortic valvular stenosis remains the most common debilitating valvular heart lesion. Despite the benefit of aortic valve (AV) replacement, many high-risk patients cannot tolerate surgery. AV implantation treats aortic stenosis without subjecting patients to sternotomy, cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB), and aorta cross-clamping. This transcatheter procedure is performed via puncture of the left ventricular (LV) apex or percutaneously, via the femoral artery or vein. Patients undergo general anesthesia, intense hemodynamic manipulation, and transesophageal echocardiography (TEE).
To elucidate the role of the anesthesiologist in the management of transcatheter AV implantation, we review the literature and provide our experience, focusing on anesthetic care, intraoperative events, TEE, and perioperative complications.
Two approaches to the aortic annulus are performed today: transfemoral retrograde and transapical antegrade. Iliac artery size and tortuosity, aortic arch atheroma, and pathology in the area of the (LV) apex help determine the preferred approach in each patient.
A general anesthetic is tailored to achieve extubation after procedure completion, whereas IV access and pharmacological support allow for emergent sternotomy and initiation of CPB. Rapid ventricular pacing and cessation of mechanical ventilation interrupts cardiac ejection and minimizes heart translocation during valvuloplasty and prosthesis implantation. Although these maneuvers facilitate exact prosthesis positioning within the native annulus, they promote hypotension and arrhythmia. Vasopressor administration before pacing and cardioversion may restore adequate hemodynamics.
TEE determines annulus size, aortic pathology, ventricular function, and mitral regurgitation. TEE and fluoroscopy are used for positioning the introducer catheter within the aortic annulus. The prosthesis, crimped on a valvuloplasty balloon catheter, is implanted by inflation. TEE immediately measures aortic regurgitation and assesses for aortic dissection. After repair of femoral vessels or LV apex, patients are allowed to emerge and assessed for extubation.
Observed and published complications include aortic regurgitation, prosthesis embolization, mitral valve disruption, hemorrhage, aortic dissection, CPB, stroke, and death.
Transcatheter AV implantation relies on intraoperative hemodynamic manipulation for success. Transfemoral and transapical approaches pose unique management challenges, but both require rapid ventricular pacing, the management of hypotension and arrhythmias during beating-heart valve implantation, and TEE. Anesthesiologists will care for debilitated patients with aortic stenosis receiving transcatheter AV implantation.