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J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 1986 Jan;91(1):92-8.

Antiplatelet drugs and the incidence of thromboembolic complications of the St. Jude Medical aortic prosthesis in patients with rheumatic heart disease.


The incidence of thromboembolic complications after St Jude Medical aortic valve replacement was evaluated in patients who received antiplatelet drugs alone (aspirin and dipyridamole). This report includes 107 consecutive patients undergoing aortic valve replacement with the St. Jude Medical prosthesis from February, 1980, until December, 1983. There were three perioperative deaths (2.8%). Thirty-seven of these patients received life-time warfarin anticoagulation and therefore were excluded from further analysis. The remaining 67 patients receiving antiplatelet drugs were followed up for 22 +/- 8 months (range 5 to 54 months) with a total observation period of 123 patient-years. Group 1 consisted of 52 patients having single St. Jude Medical aortic valve replacement (mean age 27 +/- 10 years). Group 2 included 15 patients having St. Jude Medical aortic valve replacement with additional mitral valve replacement (mean age 27 +/- 11 years). There were no postoperative embolic events in Group 1, but two St. Jude Medical aortic prostheses became thrombotic (2.1 per 100 patient-years) 19 and 32 months after the operation. Emergency aortic valve replacement was done in one of these patients and aortic thrombectomy in the other. Both patients are alive and doing well. In Group 2, three patients (10 per 100 patients-years) had thrombosis of the St. Jude Medical aortic valve 10, 12, and 30 months after the operation, and two of them required emergency aortic value replacement. One of these patients also had a massive left coronary embolus and could not be weaned from cardiopulmonary bypass. The third patient, who was asymptomatic, was prescribed warfarin anticoagulation and has been well. None of the seven patients in this group with St. Jude Medical aortic and mitral prostheses has had a thromboembolic event. These results indicate that antiplatelet drugs alone are associated with a very low risk of embolism but are insufficient to prevent thrombosis of St. Jude Medical aortic valves, even when the patients have sinus rhythm.

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