Prosthetic Heart Valve Thrombosis: A 3-Year Experience
Yaron Shapira, Rafael Hirsch, Ruth Jortner, Moshe Nili, Bernardo Vidne, Alex Sagie
Sheingarten Echocardiography Unit and Cardiology Dept., Rabin Medical Center (Beilinson Campus), Petah Tikva and Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University
A series of 12 patients with 16 episodes of prosthetic heart-valve thrombosis over 3 years is presented. Most episodes affected mitral or tricuspid bileaflet prostheses. All patients were inadequately anticoagulated at the time of thrombosis. The clinical presentation was acute and severe in 6 patients, and subacute or chronic in the rest. Physical examination was suggestive of stuck valves in most cases. Transthoracic echocardiography revealed increased transvalvular gradients in most. However, clearer evidence of valve thrombosis was obtained from transesophageal echocardiography or fluoroscopy. 9 patients eventually had their valves re-replaced successfully, and the preoperative diagnosis was confirmed in all. 5 patients were operated as soon as the diagnosis was established, and an additional 4 were operated after failure of anticoagulation. In 4 patients the valve leaflets became completely mobile after a course of thrombolysis. Prosthetic valve thrombosis is a severe and potentially fatal complication in patients with mechanical heart valves. Alertness of physicians at all levels- the general practitioner, the internist and the cardiologist- to the possibility of valve thrombosis and to its clinical presentation may lead to prompt and earlier diagnosis and to comprehensive therapy.