A decade of improving lives with aortic valve implantations
Ten years ago, The Alfred became the first hospital in Victoria to replace a patient’s heart valve without the need for open heart surgery.
Since that milestone, hundreds of lives have been extended using Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation, or TAVI, with specialists in the hospital’s Heart Centre treating 90 patients in the past year alone.
One of our very first patients, who recently celebrated his 96th birthday, is Yevgeniy Krepkyy. Last week he came back for his 10-year check-up with Professor Stephen Duffy, head of Cardiology General Services at The Alfred.
“Seeing the benefit to the patients, like Mr Krepkyy, with improved quality of life and increased longevity is why we practise medicine. It is very rewarding for us,” said Prof Duffy.
A TAVI procedure helps patients who have aortic stenosis, which is the narrowing of the aortic valve, through which blood is pushed out from the main pumping chamber to the rest of the body. During the procedure a biological tissue valve mounted on a metal frame is inserted on a catheter that is guided to the heart through a major artery, often the femoral artery starting at the groin. TAVI is considered a minimally invasive option compared to open-heart surgery, meaning it can be a better choice for high-risk patients.
“TAVI has been a significant advancement for patient care. Previously, patients considered high-risk for surgical aortic valve replacement, because of other health conditions or age, would often be turned down for surgery,” said Prof Duffy. “Now they have another option.”
The vast majority of patients receiving TAVI don’t need a general anaesthetic or time in ICU, and their hospital stay is about 2-3 days.
Prof Duffy said that large studies comparing TAVI with surgical aortic valve replacement have shown that TAVI is superior to surgery in high-risk patients and recovery is much quicker.
“We are considered a centre of excellence for TAVI and with our aging population, demand is only going to increase for the service. A/Prof Tony Walton, Dr Dion Stub, Dr Nay Htun and I look forward to treating many more patients, like Mr Krepkyy, into the future.”