Transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) has become an established and increasingly used approach for management of severe symptomatic aortic stenosis, showing similar or even superior outcomes compared with standard surgical aortic valve replacement (SAVR). Stroke after TAVI is a relatively rare, but serious complication, associated with potential prolonged disability and increased mortality.
Areas of Uncertainty:
The overall incidence of 30-day stroke in TAVI patients is 3%–4%, but varies between different trials. Initial data suggested a higher risk of stroke after TAVI when compared with SAVR. The association between subclinical leaflet thrombosis and cerebral embolism, presented as stroke, transient ischemic accident, or silent cerebral ischemia is not entirely elucidated yet. Moreover, TAVI for severe bicuspid aortic stenosis is a relatively new issue, bicuspid anatomy being initially excluded from the pivotal clinical trials investigating TAVI procedure. Efficient stroke prevention strategies are under investigation.
In the present manuscript, we used the available published data from the most relevant clinical trials, registries, and meta-analysis of patients from different risk categories who underwent TAVI or SAVR.
Predictors of acute stroke are mainly procedure related. Technological development, improvements in bioprosthesis valve delivery catheters, and implantation technique may explain the decrease of stroke over the years since the beginning of TAVI procedures.
The overall evidences confirm similar or lower rate of stroke in TAVI versus SAVR. Risk predictors for acute stroke after TAVI are generally related to procedural factors, whereas late stroke is mainly associated with patient characteristics, with a variable impact on cognitive function. The optimal choice for the antithrombotic treatment in TAVI for stroke prevention is yet to be determined. Current data do not support routine use of cerebral embolic protection devices during TAVI.