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Implications of a congenitally abnormal valve: a study of 1025 consecutively excised aortic valves


Background: An increasing proportion of patients with congenitally abnormal aortic valves (AV) present for AV replacement.

Aims: To review morphological changes in a large contemporary patient population undergoing AV replacement.

Methods: A detailed review was conducted for all 1025 patients who underwent AV replacement from 2002 to 2005, including the clinical indication for surgery, the type of native AV disease, the pathological changes observed in each valve and the need for related surgery.

Results: Tricuspid (TAV), bicuspid (BAV) and unicuspid (UAV) aortic valves were observed in 64.5%, 31.9% and 3.0% of all patients respectively. A decreased number of cusps was associated with increasing predilection for male gender (83.9%, 73.4%, 59.2% for UAV, BAV, TAV respectively), a younger patient age at surgery (41.6 (14.3), 61.3 (12.8), 67.5 (12.9) years), and an increased occurrence of pathological changes in the cusps, including calcification of both the cusp and the base, ossification and ulceration. UAV and BAV were also associated with increasing replacement of the ascending aorta due to dilatation and aneurysm formation (54.8, 38.8%, 16.6%). The incidence of infective endocarditis and rheumatic heart disease was 3.8% and 11.2% of all excised valves respectively.

Conclusion: UAV and BAV were increasingly likely to affect men, fail at an earlier age, and show an increasing incidence of pathological changes in the cusps and ascending aorta than TAV. These results suggest that TAV, BAV and UAV may represent a phenotypic continuum of a similar disease process.

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