Types of Aortic Valve Disease

Bicuspid aortic valve disease is the most common type of aortic valve abnormality.

Bicuspid aortic valve disease is a congenital condition(present at birth) and occurs in about two percent of the population. Instead of the normal three leaflets or cusps, the bicuspid aortic valve has only two. Without the third leaflet, the valve may be:

  • Well-functioning: Two-thirds of people who have this defect have a bicuspid valve that functions well for life
  • Stenotic: Stiff valves that can not open or close properly
  • Leaky (also called regurgitation): Not able close tightly

Other Congenital and acquired aortic valve abnormalities (such as rheumatic disease, infection or radiation) may also be present in younger patients, but are less common.

Patients with congenital or bicuspid aortic valve disease often do not require aortic valve surgery until they are adults. Younger patients usually have features of a leaking valve rather than a stenotic valve.

Normal aortic valve

Bicuspid aortic valve

What are the types of aortic valve surgery?

  • Aortic valve repair
  • Aortic valve replacement
    • Mechanical valve
    • Biological valve
    • Homograft valve
    • Ross procedure (also called the “Switch” operation)

The next sections have a description of each surgical option for aortic valve surgery, and the advantages and drawbacks of each.

Who makes the final decision about the type of surgery?

Choosing the best aortic valve surgery for you requires an open discussion with your physician regarding your personal risks and benefits for each surgical option. Then, you and your cardiologist should choose the best surgeon to perform the procedure.

The surgeon should have experience in performing the procedure. Be sure to review the surgery center’s surgical outcomes for the procedure you are considering. The final decision about the type of aortic valve surgery that is performed is made by the surgeon, and this may not occur until the surgery itself, when the surgeon is able to view the diseased valve

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 04/23/2019.

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