Objectives: There is still no agreement about the best method of dealing with malfunction of the aortic valve caused by aneurysm or dissection of the aortic root. The experience, rationale, and development of a valve-preserving technique introduced and used since 1979 is described.
Methods: During this period 158 patients (78% of all patients undergoing resection of aneurysm of the ascending aorta) were operated on using this technique. Their ages ranged from 2 to 72 years (mean 46.6 years). Of the patients 107 were male and 51 were female. A total of 68 patients had skeletal manifestations of Marfan's syndrome. The original disease was chronic aneurysm of the ascending aorta or root in 92 (58.2%), chronic dissection in 17 (10.8%), and acute dissection in 49 (31%) patients. One hundred eleven additional procedures were performed in 84 patients. In all there were five early deaths (4.6% +/- 2%) in the 109 patients with chronic aneurysm and one death in the 103 patients operated on electively (0.97% +/- 0.9%). Actuarial survival for patients operated on for chronic aneurysm was 93.3%, 88.0%, 79.0%, and 57.9% at 1, 5, 10, and 15 years and 96.8%, 91.2%, 82.0%, and 60.0% for those operated on electively. Actuarial survival for patients operated on for acute dissection was 72.8%, 63.4%, and 53.3% at 1, 5, and 10 years. The probability of needing reoperation was 3.0% +/- 2%, 11% +/- 0.5%, and 11% +/- 0.5% at 1, 5, and 10 years. There were no instances of infective endocarditis or thromboembolic complications except in two patients operated on early in the series who had cusp extension. No anticoagulants were used. Echocardiography showed reduction in left ventricular end-systolic and end-diastolic dimensions, which was maintained. At the end of follow-up trivial or no aortic regurgitation was demonstrated in 63.6%, mild to moderate in 33.3%, and severe in 3%.
Conclusions: Valve-sparing operations are possible in a large proportion of patients with aneurysms of the ascending aorta and the medium and long-term results are encouraging.