NHS Lothian to host specialist TAVI service

NHS Lothian has been unveiled as the host for the new Scottish specialist centre for Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI).

Patients who are too ill to have open heart surgery will now be able to have a specialist operation in the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh (RIE).

TAVI is already available to Scottish patients on a case by case basis, with those who are considered suitable being referred by their local Health Board to an appropriate provider outwith Scotland.

But the new service will mean that Scots patients can now receive the treatment in Lothian.

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.”

Dr David Farquharson, Medical Director, NHS Lothian, said: “We are delighted that the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh (RIE) has been chosen to host the specialist centre in Scotland. Until now, this new procedure has only been offered in centres outwith Scotland. 

“It means that we will be able to provide life-changing surgery, within the RIE, to scores of patients, who may otherwise have been unable to undergo a conventional open-heart operation.

“By replacing a heart valve in this way it will reduce the associated risks of the traditional surgery and boost quality of life for scores of patients from all over Scotland.”