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Original research
Aortic cusp abnormalities in patients with trileaflet aortic valve and root aneurysm


Background The frequency of concomitant cusp pathology in aortic root aneurysm with or without aortic regurgitation is not well known, and the sensitivity and specificity of two-dimensional trans-oesophageal echocardiography (2D TEE) in its detection has not yet been specified.

Objectives We analysed the type and frequency of concomitant cusp alterations in root aneurysm referred for surgery. Sensitivity and specificity of 2D TEE in detecting these alterations were determined.

Methods In 582 patients (age 56.8±15.4 years, 453 male) with trileaflet aortic valves undergoing root replacement for regurgitation (n=347) or aneurysm (n=235), details of valve morphology were analysed. In a subcohort (n=281), intraoperative TEEs were analysed retrospectively and correlated with the intraoperative findings.

Results Any cusp pathology was present in 90.9% (prolapse: n=473; retraction: n=30; calcification: n=14; fenestration: n=12), morphologically normal cusps were seen in only 52 patients (8.93%). Valve-sparing surgery was performed in 525 (90.2%) instances, composite replacement in 57 (9.8%). Preoperative TEE correctly identified any postroot repair prolapse in 70.6% and any retraction in 85%. The sensitivity of TEE in detecting any prolapse was 68.6% (specificity of 79.5%). The sensitivity was highest for the right cusp and intermediate for the non-coronary.

Conclusions Cusp prolapse is frequent in root aneurysm and trileaflet aortic valves. Prolapse is underdiagnosed by 2D TEE in many cases because pre-existent stretching of cusp tissue is masked by the geometric effects of root dilatation.

  • aneurysm, dissecting
  • aortic aneurysm
  • diagnostic imaging
  • echocardiography
  • aortic valve insufficiency

Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.

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