Bicuspid Aortic Valve Disease | Congenital Heart Valve Defect | MedStar Health

Common congenital heart valve defect in which a person has two valve flaps instead of three

The aorta is the main blood vessel that delivers blood from the heart to the rest of the body. Blood flows from the heart into the aorta through the aortic valve. Normally, this valve is made up of three flaps that seal tightly to prevent blood flowing backwards through the valve. People with bicuspid aortic valve disease (BAVD) have only two flaps.

Our team of specialists at the Complex Aortic Center care for adult patients with BAVD. The exact cause of the disease is not known, but it is the most common congenital heart defect. It occurs in about 2 percent of the population, with men twice as likely as women to develop it. The condition also runs in families.

Symptoms and complications

Although you are born with a bicuspid valve, symptoms often do not develop until later in life. One of the earliest signs of a bicuspid valve is a heart murmur, which may be diagnosed during childhood. Children with severe BAVD may develop congestive heart failure.

As you age, BAVD may cause aortic stenosis, in which the valve becomes stiff from calcium deposits, or aortic regurgitation, in which blood flows backwards into the heart.

If left untreated, BAVD can result in serious complications, such as:

Tests

Angiogram (Angiography)

An angiogram is a special X-ray taken as a special dye is injected through a thin, flexible tube called a catheter to detect blockages or aneurysms in blood vessels.

Cardiac Catheterization

Cardiac catheterization is a minimally invasive way to diagnose and treat a variety of heart and vascular conditions by guiding thin, flexible tubes called catheters through blood vessels to problem areas.

Echocardiogram

An echocardiogram uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of your heart.

Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE)

Transesophageal echocardiogram allows us to take very detailed images of your heart structure from a probe in your esophagus.

Treatments

If you are diagnosed with a bicuspid valve, you will need to be monitored by a heart specialist to determine when treatment is necessary. Most patients will require surgery to repair or replace the valve.

Aortic Valve Repair and Replacement

Aortic valve repair and replacement procedures include minimally invasive and traditional surgery as well as several types of replacement material.

Ask MHVI

Have questions for our heart and vascular program? Email us at AskMHVI@medstar.net.