Surgical aortic valve replacement had been the only definitive treatment of severe aortic stenosis before the availability of transcatheter valve technology. Historically, many patients with severe aortic stenosis had not been offered surgery, largely related to professional and patient perception regarding the risks of operation relative to anticipated benefits. Such patients have been labeled as "high risk" or "inoperable" with respect to their suitability for surgery. The availability of transcatheter aortic valve replacement affords a new treatment option for patients previously not felt to be optimal candidates for surgical valve replacement and allows for the opportunity to reexamine the methods for assessing operative risk in the context of more than 1 available treatment. Standardized risk assessment can be challenging because of both the imprecision of current risk scoring methods and the variability in ascertaining risk related to operator experience as well as local factors and practice patterns at treating facilities. Operative risk in actuality is not an absolute but represents a spectrum from very low to extreme, and the conventional labels of high risk and inoperable are incomplete with respect to their utility in clinical decision making. Moving forward, the emphasis should be on developing an individual assessment that takes into account procedure risk as well as long-term outcomes evaluated in a multidisciplinary fashion, and incorporating patient preferences and goals in a model of shared decision making.
ASJC Scopus subject areas