Observations on the optimum time for operative intervention for aortic regurgitation. I. Evaluation of the results of aortic valve replacement in symptomatic patients.
Fifty consecutive patients undergoing aortic valve replacement for isolated aortic regurgitation were studied prospectively by echocardiography, electrocardiography and cardiac catheterization. Good quality echocardiograms were obtained in 49 of the 50 patients. Left ventricular (LV) dilatation was present in all 49 patients. LV systolic function, as assessed by echocardiographic percent fractional shortening, was normal in many patients but was moderately to severely reduced (less than 25%) in 14 patients (29%). Echocardiographic studies 6 months postoperatively revealed significant reductions in LV end-diastolic dimension (73.8 mm vs 58.7 mm; p less than 0.01), and serial echocardiographic studies early and late after operation revealed that the decrease in LV size had occurred by the time of the early study (8-22 days postoperatively), with little additional change thereafter. Operative deaths occurred in three of the 49 patients (6%). Eight of the 49 patients (16%) died of congestive heart failure (CHF) after hospital discharge at times ranging from 5-43 months after operation. Preoperative echocardiographic measurements of the LV end-systolic dimension and percent fractional shortening were strongly associated (p less than 0.01) with these late CHF deaths. Preoperative LV end-systolic dimension greater than 55 mm and fractional shortening less than 25% identified the high-risk group: nine of 13 patients (69%) in this group died either at operation or subsequently from CHF. In contrast, of 32 patients with LV end-systolic dimension less than 55 mm, only one died at operation and one died late from CHF. Thus, the population at high risk of late death from CHF was identified before operation by echocardiography.
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