Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Routine hospital based follow up for patients with mechanical valve prostheses: is it worthwhile?
  1. I R Mahya,
  2. H Dougalla,
  3. A Buckleya,
  4. R R Jeffreyb,
  5. S Waltona,
  6. K P Jenningsa
  1. aDepartment of Cardiology, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, Aberdeen AB25 2ZN, UK, bDepartment of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary
  1. Dr Mahy.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

Patients who have undergone valve replacement surgery remain at risk of serious and potentially life threatening complications long after their initial surgery. The risk of death from valve related complications has been estimated at approximately 1% per annum.1 As a consequence lifelong routine follow up of patients with prosthetic heart valves in hospital cardiac clinics is often advocated.1 ,2 However, the precise form that follow up should take and whether continued hospital surveillance influences outcome is unclear. The distinct natural history of bioprosthetic and mechanical valves suggests that the value of routine follow up screening in the two groups may differ and that for patients with mechanical valves the usefulness of regular hospital visits may be questionable.

Late complications of prosthetic valve surgery can be broadly considered in two groups. The first of these relates to the potential for valve thrombosis and arterial thromboembolism, and to the complications of anticoagulant treatment intended to prevent these events. These complications are minimised by optimal monitoring of anticoagulant control. In current practice this is typically undertaken by the general practitioner or in specialised anticoagulant clinics separate from the general cardiology clinic.

The second group of complications comprises problems unrelated to anticoagulant control, principally those resulting from the haemodynamic consequences of valve malfunction and the potential for infection. These represent the target of routine hospital surveillance. However, there is little definitive evidence that screening for this group of complications, typically performed on an annual basis, permits more successful intervention than would be afforded by investigation at the time of symptomatic presentation. Paravalvar leaks in the absence of infection are usually related to technical problems at the time of surgery, and actuarial freedom from paraprosthetic leak exceeds 98% at five years.3 ,4 In contrast to bioprosthetic valves, failure …

View Full Text