The objective of this study was to compare the incidence of cerebral embolism (CE) as evaluated by diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (DW-MRI) following transapical (TA) transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) versus transfemoral (TF) TAVI.
The TA-TAVI approach avoids both the manipulation of large catheters in the aortic arch/ascending aorta and the retrograde crossing of the aortic valve, and this avoidance might lead to a lower rate of CE.
This was a prospective multicenter study including 60 patients who underwent cerebral DW-MRI the day before and within the 6 days following TAVI (TF approach: 29 patients; TA approach: 31 patients). Neurologic and cognitive function assessments were performed at DW-MRI time points.
The TAVI procedure was performed with the Edwards valve and was successful in all cases but one (98%). A total of 41 patients (68%) had 251 new cerebral ischemic lesions at the DW-MRI performed 4 ± 1 days after the procedure, 19 patients in the TF group (66%) and 22 patients in the TA group (71%; p = 0.78). Most patients (76%) with new ischemic lesions had multiple lesions (median number of lesions per patient: 3, range 1 to 31). There were no differences in lesion number and size between the TF and TA groups. No baseline or procedural factors were found to be predictors of new ischemic lesions. The occurrence of CE was not associated with a measurable impairment in cognitive function, but 2 patients (3.3%) had a clinically apparent stroke within the 24 h following the procedure (1 patient in each group).
TAVI is associated with a high rate of silent cerebral ischemic lesions as evaluated by DW-MRI, with no differences between the TF and TA approaches. These results provide important novel insight into the mechanisms of CE associated with TAVI and support the need for further research to both reduce the incidence of CE during these procedures and better determine their clinical relevance.