Aortic Valve Regurgitation
Causes of Aortic Valve Regurgitation
- Aortic aneurysm
- Congenital malformation (e.g., bicuspid aortic valve)
- Infection (endocarditis)
- Rheumatic fever
Aortic valve damage: Certain conditions, such as endocarditis or rheumatic fever, can cause damage to the aortic valve leaflets, rendering it incompetent.
Congenital malformation: Congenital malformations of the aortic valve, such as a unicuspid or bicuspid aortic valve, where the valve consists of only one or two leaflets rather than the usual three, predisposes to aortic valve regurgitation.
Aortic aneurismal disease: Connective tissue disorders (e.g., Marfans syndrome), or other disease processes can cause the aorta surrounding the aortic valve to dilate, thereby pulling the leaflets away from each other such that they do not close properly.
- Fatigue and weakness, especially on exertion
- Shortness of breath (dyspnea) during exertion or when you are lying flat
- Chest pain (angina) and any discomfort or tightness in the chest, especially if it increases during activity
- Near fainting (presyncope) or fainting (syncope) spells
- Swelling (edema) of the ankles and feet
Electrocardiogram (ECG): An ECG measures the electrical impulses of the heart. Abnormal electrical conduction patterns indicating enlargement of the left ventricular cavity can be a sign of significant aortic regurgitation. The extra volume of blood that leaks backwards into the left ventricle leads to dilation of this chamber.
Chest X-ray: A chest X-ray can reveal a left ventricle that has enlarged in response to significant aortic regurgitation.
Echocardiogram: Echocardiography provides excellent functional images of the heart, including all four of its valves. It is the primary imaging study used to diagnose aortic valve disease, including regurgitation.
Cardiac catheterization: A cardiac catheterization, or coronary angiogram, is performed by threading a thin catheter into the heart via an artery in your leg or arm and injecting dye directly into the coronary arteries. These studies map out the coronary anatomy and detect narrowing within the arteries. For patients with aortic valve regurgitation, this study is generally used to rule out significant coronary artery disease prior to surgical repair.
Aortic root replacement: When aortic valve regurgitation is caused by dilation of the aorta, an aortic root replacement may be necessary. In this operation, the aortic valve and the segment of aorta surrounding it are replaced with a composite prosthetic valve and Dacron tube. In some cases, when the aortic valve structure is otherwise normal, simply replacing a portion of the ascending aorta and sparing the valve can correct the insufficiency.
We understand that the thought of undergoing open heart surgery can feel overwhelming. Our surgeons will review your surgical plan with you, in detail, so that you know what to expect before, during, and after your operation. You can rest assured that you will be cared for by top surgeons internationally renowned for their technical skill and clinical judgment.