Direct aorta ascending approach [transaortic approach (TAo)] is a new access way for transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) to be used in patients with peripheral vascular disease and as an alternative to transapical approach.
Both the Edwards SAPIEN and CoreValve systems were used. Depending on the position of the ascending aorta, the relation to the sternum, the brachiocephalic vein, vein grafts, and left and right internal mammary artery grafts from previous heart surgery, either right minithoracotomy or left ministernotomy was selected. Computed tomographic scan with reconstruction was applied for this decision making. A hybrid operating room was used with echocardiographic and fluoroscopy guidance.
We have done 30 procedures via the aorta ascendens. The mean age of the patients was 80 years, and 18 were men. The mean Logistic EuroSCORE of 33 reflects the comorbidities. More than half of the patients had coronary vessel disease and had undergone coronary artery bypass graft; 20% had abdominal aortic aneurysm. The mean ejection fraction was 41%, and the patients were in New York Heart Association class III to IV. The mean gradient was 50 mm Hg, and the mean valve area was 0.7 cm2. The mean valve size was 28 mm. The use of Edwards SAPIEN versus CoreValve was 50%/50%, and thoracotomy versus sternotomy was 9 versus 21. All procedures were done successfully, but one patient had a periprocedural valve-in-valve implantation. Twenty-two patients were extubated in the operation room. The patients stayed in the intensive care unit for one night. Six patients were reoperated on. One patient had a postoperative balloon aortic valvuloplasty. The overall survival was 81% (follow up, 1–18 months).
Access design is an important issue in TAVI. When central approach is needed, TAVI-TAo is safe. For patients with low ejection fraction, the TAVI-TAo is preferred to the TAVI-transapical. The cannulation technique of the aorta is well known for cardiothoracic surgeons, and the method is feasible both for the Medtronic CoreValve and the Edwards SAPIEN valve, either via right minithoracotomy or ministernotomy to obtain the best coaxial alignment. It seems easier to position the bigger valves more precisely via this central approach.