Bioprosthetic valve thrombosis is uncommon and the diagnosis is often elusive and may be confused with valve degeneration. We report our experience with mitral bioprosthetic valve thrombosis and suggest a therapeutic approach. From 2002 to 2011, 149 consecutive patients who underwent mitral valve replacement with a bioprosthesis at a single center were retrospectively screened for clinical or echocardiographic evidence of valve malfunction. Nine were found to have valve thrombus. All 9 patients had their native valve preserved, representing 24% of those with preserved native valves. Five patients (group 1) presented with symptoms of congestive heart failure at 16.4 ± 12.4 months after surgery. Echocardiogram revealed homogenous echo-dense film on the ventricular surface of the bioprosthesis with elevated transvalvular gradient, resembling early degeneration. The first 2 patients underwent reoperation: valve thrombus was found and confirmed by histologic examination. Based on these, the subsequent 3 patients received anticoagulation treatment with complete thrombus resolution: mean mitral gradient decreased from 23 ± 4 to 6 ± 1 mm Hg and tricuspid regurgitation gradient decreased from 83 ± 20 to 49 ± 5 mm Hg. Four patients (group 2) were asymptomatic, but routine echocardiogram showed a discrete mass on the ventricular aspect of the valve: 1 underwent reoperation to replace the valve and 3 received anticoagulation with complete resolution of the echocardiographic findings. In conclusion, bioprosthetic mitral thrombosis occurs in about 6% of cases. In our experience, onset is early, before anticipated valve degeneration. Clinical awareness followed by an initial trial with anticoagulation is warranted. Surgery should be reserved for those who are not responsive or patients in whom the hemodynamic status does not allow delay. Nonresection of the native valve at the initial operation may play a role in the origin of this entity.
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