Specialist heart service
Patients who are too ill to have open heart surgery will now be able to have a specialist operation in Scotland, it was confirmed today.
Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI), will be available at a specialist centre at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.
TAVI is already available to Scottish patients on a case by case basis, with patients who are considered suitable being referred by their local Health Board to an appropriate provider outwith Scotland.
But the new service will mean patients will receive the treatment in Scotland.
If a patient is either not well enough for open heart surgery, or their heart and vessels are not suitable for aortic valve replacement, TAVI may be offered as an alternative suitable treatment option.
The procedure is less invasive, as a replacement valve is passed through a hole in the groin and advanced up to the ascending aorta of the patient.
It is expected that the operation will be suitable for around 50 Scottish patients a year.
Health Secretary Alex Neil said:
"There is a growing body of evidence regarding the effectiveness of TAVI, and that is why I am pleased to announce that we will now be able to provide this service in Scotland.
"Unfortunately some patients are too ill to receive open heart surgery and TAVI can mean that these people get the treatment that they need.
"I have taken this decision based on the advice of the TAVI Short Life Group who recommended that there should be a single centre providing TAVI and that centre should be in Edinburgh.
"Patients for whom a TAVI procedure is considered appropriate will now be able to access a Scottish service, instead of having to travel outside of Scotland for their treatment."
The new service will be closely monitored over the next six to 12 months, and consideration will be given to introducing a regional model of service, or extending to two sites.
Aortic Stenosis affects around three per cent of the population over 75. The most effective treatment is to replace the valve through open heart surgery, of which there are around 900 operations per year.
Transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) is a relatively new non-invasive treatment for Aortic Stenosis which is most appropriate for people considered ‘inoperable’ or at ‘high mortality risk’ for conventional valve replacement.
It is expected that the new service will be available to patients from October 2012.
Fifteen Scottish patients were referred for TAVI in 2011.