PARIS – The risk of infective endocarditis following transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) for the treatment of severe aortic stenosis proved to be the same as after surgical replacement in a French national propensity score–matched study.
This finding from what is believed to be the largest-ever study of infective endocarditis following TAVR will come as a surprise to many physicians. It’s easy to mistakenly assume the risk of this feared complication is lower – and perhaps even negligible – in TAVR patients since the procedure doesn’t involve a significant surgical wound, it’s briefer, the hospital length of stay is shorter, and recovery time is markedly less than with surgical aortic valve replacement (SAVR).
Not so, Laurent Fauchier, MD, PhD, said in presenting the study findings at the annual congress of the European Society of Cardiology.
“Do not think there is a lower risk of infective endocarditis. Be aware, be careful, and provide appropriate antibiotic prophylaxis, just as surgeons do in SAVR. Don’t think, as I did, that with TAVR with no pacemaker implantation there is no risk of infective endocarditis. The TAVR valve is a device, it’s a prosthesis, and the risk is very similar to that of surgery,” advised Dr. Fauchier, a cardiologist at Francois Rabelais University in Tours, France.
He presented a study of all of the nearly 108,000 patients who underwent isolated TAVR or SAVR in France during 2010-2018. The data source was the French national administrative hospital discharge record system. Since the TAVR patients were overall markedly older and sicker than the SAVR patients, especially during the first years of the study, he and his coinvestigators performed propensity score matching using 30 variables, which enabled them to narrow the field of inquiry down to a carefully selected study population of 16,291 TAVR patients and an equal number of closely similar SAVR patients.
A total of 1,070 cases of infective endocarditis occurred during a mean follow-up of just over 2 years. The rate of hospital admission for this complication was 1.89% per year in the TAVR group and similar at 1.71% per year in the SAVR cohort.
Of note, all-cause mortality in TAVR patients who developed infective endocarditis was 1.32-fold greater than it was in SAVR patients with infective endocarditis, a statistically significant difference. The explanation for the increased mortality risk in the TAVR group probably has to do at least in part with an inability on the part of the investigators to fully capture and control for the TAVR group’s greater frailty, according to the cardiologist.
Risk factors for infective endocarditis shared in common by TAVR and SAVR patients included male gender, a higher Charlson Comorbidity Index score, and a greater frailty index. The main predictors unique to the TAVR patients were atrial fibrillation, anemia, and tricuspid regurgitation. And although pacemaker and defibrillator implantation were risk factors for infective endocarditis in the SAVR patients, it wasn’t predictive of increased risk in the TAVR population. Dr. Fauchier called this finding “quite reassuring” given that roughly 20% of the TAVR group received a pacemaker.
The causative microorganisms for infective endocarditis were essentially the same in the TAVR and SAVR groups, simplifying antimicrobial prophylaxis decision making.
Dr. Fauchier reported having no financial conflicts regarding the study, conducted free of commercial support. He serves as a consultant to and/or on speakers’ bureaus for Bayer, BMS Pfizer, Boehringer Ingelheim, Medtronic, and Novartis.