Current Environment:

Aortic Valve | Overview

At Boston Children’s, we treat many patients with aortic valve disease — from fetuses to young adults. Many of our patients are born with primary congenital aortic valve disease, such as unicusp or bicuspid aortic valves, while others have an acquired form of aortic valve disease, meaning a form of disease that develops after birth.

Aortic valve surgical volume and results

For some patients, such as those with significant continued aortic stenosis and/or regurgitation, surgery is often required. Between 2005 and 2011, we performed more than 300 aortic valve surgeries.

Aortic valve clinical studies and trials

Although aortic valve repair is the procedure chosen most often at centers for infants, children, and young adults, repair procedures don’t always work the long-term — largely because the material used to replace the “leaflets” in the aortic valve stops working over time. At Boston Children’s, we have designed a clinical trial to address some of the problems associated repair procedures.

Using new technology and techniques, our trial compares a commercially available material for preparing these leaflets with “pericardium,” which is the sac that surrounds the heart, the aorta, and other vessels. With these new approaches, we try to simulate aortic valve surgical repair cases that were performed at Boston Children’s Hospital, and we use this information to evaluate our methods.

Fetal and infant catheter-based intervention for aortic valve disease

Using advanced diagnostic imaging techniques, some fetuses are now being diagnosed with aortic valve disease. Some of these patients may benefit from interventions before they are born.

Since 2005, we have performed more than 100 fetal interventions for aortic valve stenosis. After birth, these patients are closely monitored. On occasion, they need additional interventions. Since 2006, we have performed more than 200 catheter-based aortic valve dilations on neonates and infants — including 75 on patients who were less than 4 weeks old.

Aortic valve repair vs. replacement

Because of the size limitations of the prosthetic valves currently available, our recent focus has been on developing solutions and techniques to repair aortic valves that will remain structurally intact and keep the other parts of the heart strong and healthy.

Conditions associated with aortic valve disease