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Ann Thorac Surg. 2002 Nov;74(5):S1762-4; discussion S1792-9.

Correction of leaflet prolapse in valve-preserving aortic replacement: pushing the limits?

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  • 1Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, University Hospitals Homburg, Homburg/Saar, Germany.



For aortic dilatation with morphologically intact leaflets, valve-preserving aortic replacement has become an accepted treatment modality. Leaflet prolapse, however, may be present, making composite replacement the most frequent choice. Alternatively, valve preservation may be combined with correction of leaflet prolapse. The results of this approach should be comparable with those of valve-preserving aortic surgery in the presence of normal leaflets.


Between 1995 and 2002, 156 patients were treated by valve-preserving surgery. The aortic valve was bicuspid in 46, and tricuspid in 110 instances. In 88 aortic valves, apparently normal leaflet coaptation (normal, 12 bicuspid and 76 tricuspid), and in 68 instances, prolapse of one or more leaflets, was observed. Root remodeling (n = 133) or aortic replacement with valve reimplantation (n = 23) were performed. Leaflet prolapse was corrected by triangular resection (n = 16) or plicating sutures (n = 59), mostly placed in the central portion of the leaflet.


Neither operative mortality nor 5-year survival were influenced by the additional correction of prolapse. Freedom from reoperation at 1 year (normal, 98.8%; prolapse, 96.5%) and 5 years (normal, 97.3%; prolapse, 96.5%) were comparable in both cohorts, as was freedom from aortic regurgitation > or = II at 1 year (normal, 98.8%; prolapse, 94.2%) and 5 years (94.4%).


Surgical correction of leaflet prolapse in combination with proximal aortic replacement is feasible with good results. Midterm results are identical with those known for morphologically normal leaflets. Repair of prolapse allows for preservation of the native valve in most patients with aortic regurgitation and aortic pathology, and thus appears a beneficial addition to valve-preserving surgery.

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