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26 July 2018

‘Phenomenal’ TAVI service celebrates 10th birthday

Royal Papworth Hospital’s Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI) service celebrated its 10th anniversary recently, just weeks after recording another series of milestones during the 2017/18 financial year.

The pioneering TAVI procedure sees diseased aortic valves replaced without open heart surgery, via a minimally invasive approach, ideally via the leg arteries. It offers an alternative to conventional heart valve surgery for those considered at high risk.

Over the last financial year, the TAVI team carried out 139 procedures – 30 per cent more than in the previous year. They also performed the hospital’s 500th TAVI implantation, the 400th Transfemoral TAVI, and the 300th Balloon Valvuloplasty.

Dr Cameron Densem, Clinical Lead for the TAVI service, who carried out the hospital’s first TAVI implantation on on May 21 2008, and also its 500th, brought the technique over to Papworth after studying it in Vancouver. “I could see it had a definite future,” he said. “We did 8 in the first year - last year we did 139. It’s the department’s most powerful elective treatment for saving lives and improving the quality of lives.”

Dr Densem, who has treated two patients who are now over 100 years old, said TAVI is a therapy that allows people who have been living as full a life as possible to “spring back” quickly. He hopes in the future it will become more widely available.

“It’s phenomenally transformative. These are patients who are on a downward slope; they’re in a situation that’s really not pleasant but they’re so high risk that they’re not suitable for a conventional heart valve operation. If we can get to them early enough, TAVI can massively change the course of someone’s life - and afterwards they spend less time in hospital, and are not readmitted. It takes people from death’s door to symptoms no more.”

TAVI team top of research study leader board

Royal Papworth Hospital has finished top of the leader board for the number of patients recruited to the UK TAVI research study.

The study – carried out over the past four years – to “assess the clinical effectiveness and cost-utility of TAVI, compared with conventional surgical aortic valve replacement, in patients with severe symptomatic aortic stenosis, who are at
intermediate or high operative risk” saw 913 patients recruited nationally, with 80 signed up at Royal Papworth.

It has been a remarkable multidisciplinary team effort at the hospital and included surgeons, cardiologists, the ECHO department, the CT department, administration staff, R&D and TAVI nurses.

Royal Papworth Hospital surgeon Mrs Catherine Sudarshan (pictured) was key in recruiting for the study.