Can We Use Valve-In-Valve Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement in an Unstable Patient?

Neeraj Shah, MD1, Sandeep Singla, MD2, Abhishek Deshmukh, MD3, Rajesh Sachdeva, MD4

Neeraj Shah, MD1, Sandeep Singla, MD2, Abhishek Deshmukh, MD3, Rajesh Sachdeva, MD4

After the publication of the PARTNER trial, transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) has become an option for treatment of patients with severe aortic stenosis (AS) who are at high risk of undergoing surgery.1 Since then, several off-label indications for TAVR have emerged. TAVR has been shown to be feasible in patients with pure aortic valve insufficiency (AI) who are high-risk candidates for surgery2 and as a valve-in-valve procedure either over a previous TAVR or over a previously implanted bioprosthetic valve. 

Valve-in-valve after TAVR. Paravalvular leak is a recognized complication of TAVR, and is most commonly caused by malpositioning of the prosthesis. Once deployed, it is not possible to reposition the prosthesis. Hence, the transcatheter valve-in-valve (TV-in-TV) technique has been described in cases of acute AI due to malpositioning of the first prosthesis.3-5 A recent study published from the PARTNER trial showed that TV-in-TV was performed in 2.5% of patients and was associated with a higher incidence of conduction abnormalities, pacemaker implantation, and increased cardiovascular mortality at 1 year.3 However, most of the TV-in-TVs in this study were done in an acute, emergent setting during or immediately after the first TAVR. Other studies4,5 have shown satisfactory outcomes and no clinically significant hemodynamic gradients at long-term follow-up in patients undergoing TV-in-TV compared to standard TAVR.

Valve-in-valve after surgical bioprosthetic valve. Similarly, TAVR has been performed in patients with failed surgically implanted bioprosthetic valves who are at high risk for re-operation. A study published in 2012 from the Global Valve-in-Valve registry included 202 patients undergoing TAVR for failed bioprosthetic valves.6 The mode of failure was stenosis in 42%, regurgitation in 34%, and combined stenosis and regurgitation in 24% of patients. The procedure was successfully performed in 93% of patients and the most common adverse outcomes were device malposition (15%) and ostial coronary obstruction (3.5%). There were high peak and mean gradients of 28.4 and 15.9 mm Hg, respectively; however, the clinical significance of this is unclear. High gradients are believed to be due to underexpansion of the transcatheter valve due to the relatively undilatable sewing ring of the bioprosthetic valve.6,7 Hence, use of this technique in small <21 mm bioprosthetic valves may result in significantly high residual gradients.7,8 The size of the valve selected for TAVR depends upon the internal diameter of the bioprosthetic valve, mechanism of failure (regurgitation vs stenosis), and location of calcification or pannus.7 AI appears to be absent or mild in cases of valve-in-valve over bioprosthetic valves, possibly because the circular sewing ring of the bioprosthesis facilitates intervalvular sealing.7 Currently, valve-in-valve TAVR over a bioprosthetic valve is done electively in hemodynamically stable patients.

The case series published in the current issue of the Journal of Invasive Cardiology by Fudim et al9 details 2 cases of severe AI due to failed degenerated bioprosthetic valves causing acute congestive heart failure (CHF) and cardiogenic shock. Since both these patients were deemed high risk for surgery, the therapeutic options were limited and TAVR was performed. In both cases, TAVR was successful with reductions in pulmonary pressures, but was complicated by high-grade heart block requiring a pacemaker. Although patients with cardiogenic shock or those on inotropic support were excluded from the PARTNER trial, the TV-in-TV procedures performed after device malpositioning leading to acute severe AI were mostly done in an emergent setting with likely hemodynamic compromise.3 It is therefore logical to extend this scenario in patients with failed bioprosthetic valves causing acute severe AI. Moreover, the effect of the annulus of the bioprosthesis in reducing post-TAVR AI7 makes it even more attractive to use TAVR in this population. The authors demonstrate feasibility and success of this procedure in 2 such patients at their institution. With AI causing hemodynamic instability in a patient with an acutely failing bioprosthetic valve, the therapeutic options are limited and TAVR may be implemented as a salvage procedure after careful patient selection. It is important to bear in mind etiology of the prosthetic failure, nature of the prosthetic failure, size of the implanted valve, and anatomy of the aorta and peripheral vascular system prior to using TAVR in these patients.


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From the 1Department of Internal Medicine, Staten Island University Hospital, Staten Island, New York; 2Forsyth Medical Center, Winston-Salem, North Carolina; 3University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, Arkansas; and 4Wellstar Cardiology, North Fulton Hospital, Roswell, Georgia.

Disclosure: The authors have completed and returned the ICMJE Form for Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest. The authors report no conflicts of interest regarding the content herein.

Address for correspondence: Rajesh Sachdeva, MD, WellStar Cardiology, North Fulton Hospital, 3000 Hospital Boulevard, Roswell, GA 30076. Email: