Aschoff bodies at necropsy in valvular heart disease. Evidence from an analysis of 543 patients over 14 years of age that rheumatic heart disease, at least anatomically, is a disease of the mitral valve.
Among 543 necropsy patients over age 14 years with severe chronic valvular heart disease, Aschoff bodies were found in 11 patients (2%). The ages of the 11 patients ranged from 18 to 68 years (avg. 38), and nine had had a history of acute rhematic fever earlier in life. Clinically, nine of the 11 patients had mitral stenosis with or without dysfunction of one or more other cardiac valves, one had isolated aortic regurgitation, and one had both mitral and aortic regurgitation. All 11 patients had diffuse fibrous thickening of the mitral valve leaflets, and all but one had diffuse anatomic lesions of at least one other cardiac valve. No patient with anatomic lesions limited to the aortic valve had Aschoff bodies. Thus, among patients with chronic valvular heart disease, Aschoff bodies, the only anatomic lesion pathognomonic of rheumatic heart disease, indicate diffuse anatomic lesions of the mitral leaflets and usually also anatomic lesions of one or more other cardiac valves. The functional mitral lesion is usually stenosis.
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