Significant advances in imaging modalities have occurred to evaluate prosthetic valve function and associated complications. These developments involve predominantly the introduction of Doppler technology for the non- invasive determination of gradients and valve areas and TEE for an improved assessment of valve structure, function, and associated complications. The current role of cinefluoroscopy is mostly to complement TEE in the evaluation of motion of mechanical prosthetic valves in the aortic position. Cardiac catherization is now rarely needed to assess valve function. Diagnosis of prosthetic valve obstruction can be performed in the majority of cases with transthoracic Doppler echocardiography. Differentiation of valve obstruction from normal valve function in small valves with high flow conditions, however, may be difficult. Because of this and the variability in normal values among different prostheses, knowledge of the type and size of the implanted valve is essential. Patients and ultrasound laboratories are encouraged to seek and provide this information on a routine basis. Although transthoracic echocardiography is the main diagnostic modality for the serial evaluation of prosthetic valve function, it is important to recognize its limitations in assessing prosthetic mitral regurgitation and evaluating structural abnormalities of prosthetic valves. These are the situations in which TEE has the most impact. A summary of general indications of TEE in prosthetic valves is provided in Table 6. Finally, a baseline transthoracic Doppler study is essential in the overall follow-up and serial evaluation of valve function. For future comparisons, the best indices of valve function are those obtained for patients as their own control, from a baseline Doppler echocardiography study performed early after the operation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine