Prosthetic heart valve

Dr Daniel J Bell and Dr Ian Bickle et al.

Prosthetic heart valves are common. The four valves of the heart may all be surgically replaced. However, the aortic and mitral valves are the most commonly replaced.

Replacements may be tissue or metallic valves, only the latter being visualized on imaging investigations. Sometimes the annulus alone is replaced as seen in annuloplasty rings.

In recent times, aortic valves in select circumstances are being replaced via a transcatheter approach, called a transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) from a femoral artery approach.

Radiographic features

Evaluation of prosthetic valves often relies on multimodality imaging, including transesophageal echocardiography, transthoracic echocardiography, fluoroscopy, and computed tomography (CT) 3.

Echocardiography

Valve appearance on echocardiography is dependent on the type of valve, which are generally subdivided into two categories (mechanical and bioprosthetic) with examples as follows 5:

  • mechanical valves
    • ball cage valves
      • Starr-Edwards caged ball valve
    • tilting disk valves
      • Bjork-Shiley tilting disk valve
  • bioprosthetic valves
    • homografts
    • heterografts
    • stented
      • Carpentier-Edwards stented aortic valve
    • stentless
      • Biocor stentless aortic valve

Transesophageal echocardiography is the modality of choice to assess the status of a prosthetic heart valve; a baseline study is typically performed after placement, and subsequent studies rely on comparison with this baseline to assess for pathology.

Complications of prosthetic valves 5:
  • obstruction
    • may be due to thrombus or pannus 4
      • may require MDCT to discriminate based on attenuation differences
      • thrombogenic obstruction typically occurs with a subtherapeutic INR early after mechanical prosthesis implantation 6
        • ​typically occult to transthoracic studies
        • the posterior acoustic shadowing from the valve obscures the typical atrial location of thrombi
        • obstruction due to pannus tends to be a more chronic process, with a slow symptom onset and older valvular prosthesis
  • infective endocarditis
  • paravalvular regurgitation
  • valve failure (see below)
    • mechanical failure in mechanical valves
    • degeneration of a biological valve
  • hemolytic anemia: rare, both biological and mechanical valves 7

Severe dysfunction of a prosthetic valve should be suspected when the following parameters are measured 5:

See also

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Article information

rID: 27742
System: Chest, Cardiac
Section: Gamuts
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Heart valve replacement
  • Prosthetic heart valves
  • Heart valve replacements
  • Prosthetic cardiac valves
  • Heart valve prosthesis
  • Heart valve prostheses
  • Artifical valve

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Cases and figures

  • Case 1: tricuspid valve prosthe
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  • Case 2: aortic: transcatheter
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  • Case 3: TAVI
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  • Case 4: MVR
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  • Case 5: AVR and MVR
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  • Case 6: pulmonary valve
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  • Case 7: aortic valve replacement
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  • Case 8: mitral valve replacement
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  • Case 9: tricuspid and pulmonary
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  • Case 10: MVR and AVR
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  • Case 11: Starr Edwards valve
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  • Case 12: tricuspid valve replacement
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  • Case 13: MVR illustrated by inverting the image contrast
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  • Case 14: Melody pulmonary valve
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  • Case 15: C-ring annuloplasty
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