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Lancet. 1992 Aug 29;340(8818):520-3.

Should patients with Björk-Shiley valves undergo prophylactic replacement?

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Program in Medical Information Science, Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover, New Hampshire 03756.


About 85,000 patients have undergone replacement of diseased heart valves with prosthetic Björk-Shiley convexo-concave (CC) valves. These valves are prone to fracture of the outlet strut, which leads to acute valve failure that is usually fatal. Should patients with these valves undergo prophylactic replacement to avoid fracture? The incidence of strut fracture varies between 0% and 1.5% per year, depending on valve opening angle (60 degrees or 70 degrees), diameter (less than 29 mm or greater than or equal to 29 mm), and location (aortic or mitral). Other factors include the patient's life expectancy and the expected morbidity and mortality associated with reoperation. We have used decision analysis to identify the patients most likely to benefit from prophylactic reoperation. The incidence of outlet strut fracture was estimated from the data of three large studies on CC valves, and stratified by opening angle, diameter, and location. A Markov decision analysis model was used to estimate life expectancy for patients undergoing prophylactic valve replacement and for those not undergoing reoperation. Prophylactic valve replacement does not benefit patients with CC valves that have low strut fracture risks (60 degrees aortic valves and less than 29 mm, 60 degrees mitral valves). For most patients with CC valves that have high strut fracture risks (greater than or equal to 29 mm, 70 degrees CC), prophylactic valve replacement increases life expectancy. However, elderly patients with such valves benefit from prophylactic reoperation only if the risk of operative mortality is low. Patient age and operative risk are most important in recommendations for patients with CC valves that have intermediate strut fracture risks (less than 29 mm, 70 degrees valves and greater than or equal to 29 mm, 60 degrees mitral valves). For all patients and their doctors facing the difficult decision on whether to replace CC valves, individual estimates of operative mortality risk that take account of both patient-specific and institution-specific factors are essential.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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