Edinburgh Royal Infirmary first in Scotland to offer new heart procedure

Health Secretary Alex Neil. Picture: Robert Perry
Health Secretary Alex Neil. Picture: Robert Perry
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A SPECIALIST heart operation offered to patients too ill to undergo open-heart surgery is now available for the first time in Scotland.

• Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation available in Scotland for the first time

• Around 50 procedures a year expected to take place

Until now patients in need of the operation, known as Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI), had to travel to hospitals outside Scotland.

The Scottish Government yesterday announced patients will be able to have the operation at Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary from next month.

Health officials expect around 50 patients with the potentially fatal heart condition aortic stenosis, which restricts blood flow to the heart, to have the surgery every year at the Scottish unit.

The procedure is less invasive, as a replacement valve is passed through part of the lower body up to a patient’s heart.

Health Secretary Alex Neil said: “There is a growing body of evidence regarding the effectiveness of TAVI.

“Unfortunately some patients are too ill to receive open-heart surgery and TAVI can mean that these people get the treatment that they need.

“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.”

TAVI has been 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. Last year 15 patients were forced to travel outwith Scotland for the operation.

Mr Neil said the Government would consider offering the surgery at a second site if there was demand.

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.

TAVI is a relatively new non-invasive treatment for aortic stenosis for people considered ‘inoperable’ or at ‘high mortality risk’ for conventional open heart surgery.