Aortic valve imaging with computed tomography: a review

J Heart Valve Dis. 2002 Sep;11(5):604-11.


The finding of aortic valve calcification is of clinical relevance. Thickening and calcification of the aortic valve ('aortic sclerosis') may progress over time to calcific aortic stenosis, and calcification of the aortic valve has prognostic importance even in the absence of valve obstruction. Aortic valve calcification may also have effects on the conduction system. There is progressive awareness of the need for an imaging technique that can accurately and reproducibly quantify calcification of native and prosthetic aortic valves. Through adaptation of techniques from electron beam computed tomography (CT) coronary calcium scoring, CT has been proposed as the appropriate imaging modality. Although originally described as a method of comparing the calcification of different aortic valve bioprostheses, the major role suggested for CT aortic valve calcium quantification is now in the field of preventive medicine. This has stemmed from the recognition that traditional vascular risk factors also have a role in the etiology of calcific aortic stenosis. Subsequently, the realization that pharmacological modification of lipid profiles may result in slowing of progression or even regression of aortic valve calcification has led to a need to quantify aortic valve calcification for follow up purposes. Echocardiography has been used to estimate aortic valve calcification in studies of the natural history of aortic stenosis, but it does not accurately quantify calcium. CT appears able to fulfil this requirement, though the technique is still relatively novel. This review examines the need for aortic valve calcium quantification and the evolution of imaging to the current status. Future directions and the promise of new helical CT technologies with respect to cardiac imaging are explored.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aortic Valve / diagnostic imaging*
  • Aortic Valve / pathology
  • Calcinosis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Calcinosis / pathology
  • Humans
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / instrumentation
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / trends*
  • Ultrasonography