Surgical treatment in chronic aortic regurgitation : Timing, results, prognosis and left ventricular function

Abstract: Chronic aortic regurgitation (AR) of varying degree affects 13% of men and 8.5% of women. In persons with severe AR, the expected length of life and its quality are influenced. Some individuals remain asymptomatic for a long period, due to effective compensatory mechanisms, but dysfunction of the left ventricle (LV) usually begins before symptoms appear and can be irreversible by then. This thesis addresses questions of LV function and optimal time for operation of patients suffering from chronic AR. Moreover, detailed echocardiographic studies of the anatomy of the normal aortic valve have been performed to obtain a better understanding of the in vivo anatomic relations within the aortic root.Patients with chronic AR, without concomitant cardiac disease, were studied both retrospectively (n=88) and prospectively (n=29) and the aortic valves of persons (n=32) free from cardiac disease were investigated.For the retrospectively studied patients, survival was 82% at 10 years which is an improvement compared with previously published results. The majority of the patients, however, had LV dysfunction preoperatively. By studying patients prospectively by echocardiography, radionuclide ventriculography (MUGA) and cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET) our aim was to evaluate the predictive value of measurements of LV function at rest and during exercise for postoperative outcome. LV diameters were markedly elevated prior to and diminished significantly after surgery. Patients with an abnormal exercise ejection fraction (EF) response by MUGA preoperatively, presented the same reaction postoperatively. This could not be predicted by LV function determination at rest, or by NYHA functional class. In spite of median NYHA class II, these patients had a low work capacity on CPET, which was neither improved 6 months postoperatively nor correlated to echocardiographic LV dimensions. Thus, both MUGA and CPET may be useful complements for timing of surgery in patients with chronic AR.Assuming that patients would benefit from preservation of their native valves the normal aortic valve was studied to gain detailed information about the echocardiographic anatomy and relations within the normal aortic root. This extended examination of the aortic root may facilitate a better planning of aortic valve‐preserving interventions in the future.