Guidelines for management of left-sided prosthetic valve thrombosis: a role for thrombolytic therapy. Consensus Conference on Prosthetic Valve Thrombosis

J Am Coll Cardiol. 1997 Nov 15;30(6):1521-6. doi: 10.1016/s0735-1097(97)00345-8.


Objectives: We sought to form a consensus recommendation for management of prosthetic valve thrombosis (PVT) from previous case and uncontrolled reports from a consensus of international specialists.

Background: PVT and thromboembolism relate to inadequate anticoagulation and valve type and location. PVT is suspected by history (dyspnea) and auscultation (muffled valve sounds or new murmurs) and confirmed by Doppler echocardiography showing a marked valve gradient.

Methods: A consensus conference was held to recommend management of left-sided PVT.

Results: Transesophageal Doppler echocardiography is used to visualize abnormal leaflet motion and the size, location and mobility of thrombus. Thrombolysis is used for high risk surgical candidates with left-sided PVT (New York Heart Association functional class III or IV) because cerebral thromboembolism may occur in 12% of patients. Duration of thrombolysis depends on resolution of pressure gradients and valve areas to near normal by Doppler echocardiography performed every few hours. Lysis is stopped after 72 or 24 h if there is no hemodynamic improvement (operation indicated). Heparin infusion with frequent measurement of activated partial thromboplastin time (aPTT) begins when aPTT is more than twice control levels and can be converted to warfarin (international normalized ratio [INR] 2.5 to 3.5) plus aspirin (81 to 100 mg/day). Patients in functional class I or II have lower surgical mortality, and those with large immobile thrombi on the prosthetic valve or left atrium have responded to endogenous lysis with combined subcutaneous heparin every 12 h (aPTT 55 to 80 s) plus warfarin (INR 2.5 to 3.5) for 1 to 6 months. Operation is advised for nonresponders or patients with mobile thrombi.

Conclusions: Thrombolysis, followed by heparin, warfarin and aspirin, is advised for high risk surgical candidates with left-sided PVT.

Publication types

  • Consensus Development Conference
  • Guideline
  • Practice Guideline
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aortic Valve
  • Contraindications
  • Fibrinolytic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Fibrinolytic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Heart Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Heart Valve Prosthesis*
  • Mitral Valve
  • Prosthesis Failure
  • Thrombolytic Therapy*
  • Thrombosis / drug therapy*


  • Fibrinolytic Agents