OBJECTIVES Transapical transcatheter valve procedures are performed through a left minithoracotomy and require apical sutures to seal the apical access site. The use of large-calibre devices compromises any attempt to fully perform the procedure with a thoracoscopic approach or percutaneously. We report our preliminary experience in animals with a new sutureless self-expandable apical occluder, engineered to perform transapical access site closure in a minimally invasive setting with large-size introducer sheaths. METHODS The apical occluder with extendable waist was implanted in six young pigs during an acute animal study. Under general anaesthesia, animals (mean weight: 62 ± 8 kg) received full heparinization (heparin: 100 UI/kg; activated clotting time above 250 s). Through a median sternotomy, a 21-Fr Certitude™ introducer sheath (outer diameter: 25 Fr) was placed over the wire into the cardiac apex. The delivery catheter carrying the constrained apical plug was inserted into the sheath and deployed under fluoroscopic control, whereas the Certitude™ was retrieved. After protamine infusion, we observed and recorded the 1-h bleeding with standard haemodynamic parameters. Animals were sacrificed, and hearts analysed. RESULTS Six apical closure devices were successfully introduced and deployed in six pig hearts through large-size apical sheaths at first attempt. In all animals, the plugs guaranteed immediate apical sealing and traces of blood were collected in the pericardium during the 1-h observational period (mean of 16 ± 3.4 ml of blood loss per animal). Haemodynamic parameters remained stable during the entire study period and no plug dislodgement was detected with normal systemic blood pressure (mean arterial mean blood pressure: 65 ± 7 mmHg). Post-mortem analysis confirmed the full deployment and good fixation of all plugs, without macroscopic damages to the surrounding myocardium. CONCLUSIONS This sutureless self-expandable apical occluder is a simple device capable of sealing large-size apical access sites (20-35 Fr) in an acute animal study. This approach is a step further towards less invasive transapical valve procedures in the clinical setting, and further animal tests will be performed to confirm the long-term efficacy and safety of this device.