Background: Residual left ventricular hypertrophy adversely affects long-term outcome after aortic valve replacement. A stentless biological valve in the aortic position has been shown to offer a better hemodynamic profile than a stented one. However, it remains to be defined whether this difference is translated into inter-mediate-term effects on left ventricular structure and function.
Methods: One hundred thirty-seven patients receiving single aortic valve replacement (52 with concomitant coronary artery bypass graft) were enrolled in this study. Ninety-eight were men, and the mean age was 68 years (range, 55 to 90 years). Of the 137 patients, 39 had an aortic homograft, 72 a Toronto stentless porcine valve, and 26 had a stented porcine or bileaflet mechanical valve, with mean valve size of 25 +/- 2.5 mm (mean +/- standard deviation). Left ventricular muscle mass and function were assessed by M-mode echocardiography performed before and 0.5, 6, 12, 24, and 36 months after operation, and recorded on paper for off-line digitizing. Peak valve prosthesis pressure gradients were quantified by continuous wave Doppler.
Results: A total of 330 echocardiograms obtained during this study were adequate for computer digitizing. Clinical data, preoperative left ventricular function, and hypertrophy were similar between the three groups. Significant improvement in left ventricular function and major regression of left ventricular hypertrophy had occurred in the entire population by 6 months after operation. Multivariate analysis of variance showed that patients with previous aortic regurgitation had a larger left ventricular cavity size (p < 0.001) and greater mass index (p = 0.001) postoperatively than those with previous aortic stenosis. In addition, peak valvular gradient was lower (p < 0.001), mass index less (p < 0.001), and left ventricular function more normal both systolic, by a greater peak velocity of dimension shortening (p = 0.05) and wall thickening (p = 0.002), and diastolic, by a greater peak velocity of dimension lengthening (p = 0.046), with an aortic homograft or stentless porcine valve compared with a mechanical or stented biological valve. There was no significant difference in peak valve gradient, left ventricular mass index, or function between the aortic homograft and the stentless porcine valve. Age, sex, and concomitant coronary artery bypass graft, as well as aortic cross-clamp time, cardioplegia method, and valve size all proved to be insignificant determinants of postoperative left ventricular hypertrophy or function.
Conclusions: In the first 2 years after implantation, the superior hemodynamic performance of aortic homograft and stentless porcine valve appears to result in more extensive regression of ventricular hypertrophy and greater improvement of left ventricular function than occurs with a mechanical or stented biological valve. These findings encourage the use of a stentless biological valve in older patients requiring aortic valve replacement, and a larger scale long-term randomized study of stentless versus stented biological valve or mechanical valve seems warranted.