Subclinical leaflet thrombosis after transcatheter aortic valve implantation is associated with silent brain injury on brain magnetic resonance imaging


Whether hypoattenuated leaflet thickening (HALT) following transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) carries a risk of subclinical brain injury (SBI) is unknown. We investigated whether HALT is associated with SBI detected on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and whether post-TAVI SBI impacts the patients’ cognition and outcome.

Methods and results:

We prospectively enrolled 153 patients (age: 78.1 ± 6.3 years; female 44%) who underwent TAVI. Brain MRI was performed shortly post-TAVI and 6 months later to assess the occurrence of acute silent cerebral ischaemic lesions (SCIL) and chronic white matter hyperintensities (WMH). HALT was screened by cardiac computed tomography (CT) angiography (CTA) 6 months post-TAVI. Neurocognitive evaluation was performed before, shortly after and 6 months following TAVI. At 6 months, 115 patients had diagnostic CTA and 10 had HALT. HALT status, baseline, and follow-up MRIs were available in 91 cases. At 6 months, new SCIL was evident in 16%, new WMH in 66%. New WMH was more frequent (100 vs. 62%; P = 0.047) with higher median volume (319 vs. 50 mm3; P = 0.039) among HALT-patients. In uni- and multivariate analysis, HALT was associated with new WMH volume (beta: 0.72; 95%CI: 0.2-1.39; P = 0.009). The patients’ cognitive trajectory from pre-TAVI to 6 months showed significant association with the 6-month SCIL volume (beta: -4.69; 95%CI: -9.13 to 0.27; P = 0.038), but was not related to the presence or volume of new WMH. During a 3.1-year follow-up, neither HALT [hazard ratio (HR): 0.86; 95%CI: 0.202-3.687; P = 0.84], nor the related WMH burden (HR: 1.09; 95%CI: 0.701-1.680; P = 0.71) was related with increased mortality.


At 6 months post-TAVI, HALT was linked with greater WMH burden, but did not carry an increased risk of cognitive decline or mortality over a 3.1-year follow-up (NCT02826200).


HALT (hypoattenuated leaflet thickening); TAVI (transcatheter aortic valve implantation); WMH (white matter hyperintensities); brain MRI (magnetic resonance imaging); cognition.

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