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J Am Coll Cardiol. 2012 Mar 20;59(12):1110-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2011.10.899.

Mechanical aortic valve replacement in young women planning on pregnancy: maternal and fetal outcomes under low oral anticoagulation, a pilot observational study on a comprehensive pre-operative counseling protocol.

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Department of Cardiovascular Surgery and Transplant, V Monaldi Hospital, Naples, Italy.



This pilot prospective observational study aimed to evaluate the maternal and fetal outcomes of pregnancies under low-dose oral anticoagulation therapy after aortic mechanical replacement.


Need for valve replacement is still an issue for young women with native valve disease who are planning on future pregnancy. Choice of replacement device is a challenging clinical task.


A comprehensive pre-operative counseling protocol to guide choice of replacement device was developed. The pre-operative anticoagulation trial to determine the warfarin daily dosage needed to reach target international normalized ratio (INR) represented the main stem of such protocol. Pregnancies on low-dose anticoagulation therapy (target INR: 1.5 to 2.5) were allowed in a highly selected subset of mechanical aortic valve recipients.


Twenty-two patients of 40 originally referred for native valve disease surgery requiring valve replacement, safely underwent the pre-operative anticoagulation challenge. No maternal or fetal complications were detected in 16 pregnancies under low oral anticoagulation. Patterns of warfarin daily dosage and induced INRs were characterized during pregnancy.


In this small sample observational study, a pre-operative anticoagulation therapy trial helped young women scheduled for valve replacement to acquire complete information as to the choice of prosthetic device. In selected third-generation mechanical aortic prosthesis recipients, low-dose anticoagulation therapy seems safe and feasible for both mother and fetus. Further studies are needed to validate this approach.

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