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An unpleasnt debate with a cardiac surgeon : How to manage severe mitral stenosis with Mild to moderate Aortic regurgitation

Posted Aug 15 2012 12:03pm

A 32 year old unmarried female with rheumatic heart disease   presented with class  3 dyspnea . She had severe mitral  stenosis with significant calcification , subvalvular fusion , and  a LA appendage clot . She had an aortic valve  which showed mild to moderate AR*  was  and  mild  Aortic stenosis ( Peak  Aoric gradient 30mmhg ).LV diastolic dimension was 40mm and systolic 26 mm .LA was huge 48 X 56 mm  EF was 66 % .

* The patient was having three echo reports done in various parts of the state ranging from mild  to severe  AR . I did the echo myself and I  was convinced  ,  it can at best termed as Mild AR . Let us take it as moderate AR for discussion  

To my surprise  , this patient  was   being planned for double valve replacement . (MVR  and AVR ) .

I agreed with MVR since the valve was completely  damaged and neither PTMC or mitral valve repair  is possible.

However  , I was taken aback   , how can  one  plan for a  AVR for mild aortic valve disease ? I  asked the surgeon  ?

The answer was even more a shocker to me .

Since we are  opening the chest for MVR it is better to replace Aortic valve as well . Since  repeat surgery can be avoided .

The surgeon seemed to be very much convinced about this argument .

I asked him ,   is the mortality /morbidity due to DVR is too high  to take a risk .

The LV dimension is absolutely  normal (In fact it is less than normal !)  so  the AR is definitely not significant .

The surgeon was in no mood to leave me . He argued ,  Since the mitral stenosis is severe , the AR is  probably underestimated .   ” We have quiet a few experience of AR worsening after MVR” ? he asserted !

I still fail to  understand  the reasoning of the surgeon .

How is that ,  indication for AVR could vary if it is  accompanied by  mitral valve disease . If the same patient has  isolated moderate AR  AVR is  forbidden  . Poor patient !

By the way , we have problems with our patients as well .I recall an event ,   a  disappointed  patient’s  spouse  arguing  with his the doctor for not fulfilling his Initial  promise of  replacing two valves . We are living in difficult times , I agreed with the surgeon !

Do we have  alternate solutions ?

  1. Assess on table after MVR by TEE if the AR seems worsen proceed with  AVR .
  2. Modern technology might answer .Let us dream  TAVR for rheumatic valve . . . not too far ?

*Transcutananeous Aortic vale replacement .

Final message

Cardiologists and cardiac surgeons should take extra care before finalizing a decision on DVR in any combined valve disease. It may seem  easier to replace two valves . Please spend few moments silently and think about these young men and women  . Valve replacements are  not like replacing  worn tires of your car.  Do not  burden the heart with multiple artificial valves without a real need for it !

The rate of progression of Aortic valve disease following MVR  can be slower than we think . With surgical techniques and  expertise   improving every year ,   repeat aortic surgery may be done safely in selected few ,  in case it becomes necessary !


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