SEATTLE (FRONTLINE MEDICAL NEWS)Aortic valve–sparing procedures have better outcomes than Bentall procedures with biologic or mechanical valves, according to a review of 1,187 aortic root cases at the University of Toronto.

“If the aortic valve can be spared, AVS [aortic valve–sparing] procedures should be considered for patients undergoing aortic root replacement,” concluded the investigators, led by Dr. Maral Ouzounian, a cardiovascular surgeon at the university.

The team reviewed surgical outcomes there from 1990 to 2010; 282 patients had AVS procedures, 562 had Bentall procedures with biologic valve replacements (b-Bentall); and 343 had Bentalls with mechanical valve replacements (m-Bentall). About 7.5% of AVS patients had bicuspid aortic valves, versus 67.6% in the b-Bentall group and 51.7% in the m-Bentall group.

To control for confounders, patients were matched into 185 triads based on age, year of surgery, and stage of heart failure. The surgeries were all elective; patients with endocarditis or aortic dissections were excluded from the analysis.

Early postoperative outcomes and overall long-term survival were similar between the groups, with about 80% of patients in all three alive at 15-year follow-up.

However, AVS procedures had better long-term freedom from cardiac death (95% at 15 years versus 93% in the b-Bentall and 90% in the m-Bentall groups). Also, AVS patients had lower rates of anticoagulant-related hemorrhages, compared with m-Bentall patients (3.2% versus 17.8%), and lower rates of structural valve deterioration (0% versus 6.5%) and reoperations (6.5% versus 13.5%) than b-Bentall patients. The differences were statistically significant.

About 5% of AVS patients had previous cardiac surgery, versus 12.4% in the b-Bentall and 36.2% in the m-Bentall groups. AVS patients were more likely to have Marfan syndrome, and about 8% of AVS patients had preoperative ejection fractions below 40%, versus 9.3% in the b-Bentall and 13% in the m-Bentall groups. There were no between-group differences in the rates of concomitant coronary bypass or mitral valve surgery. Patients were about 50 years old on average, and about 80% were men.

“In Toronto, we are quite aggressive with valve-sparing operations. We believe in this operation, so whenever we can spare the valve, we do.” Although valve-sparing procedures have become more common in large, high-volume surgery centers over the past 20 years, “community surgeons in small-volume centers are still much more likely to do a Bentall because of the complexity of AVS operations and the art it takes to get it right,” Dr. Ouzounian said at the annual meeting of the American Association for Thoracic Surgery.

Previous investigations have found benefits for AVS procedures, as well. One concluded that “there is no significant difference in terms of re-operation between patients, who presented with [bicuspid or tricuspid aortic valves]. Re-operation rates are higher for patients who presented with severe [aortic regurgitation], but these rates do not reach statistical significance. Hence, root replacement with aortic valve sparing should be offered even in the presence of a” bicuspid aortic valve or severe aortic regurgitation ( Eur. J. Cardiothorac. Surg. 2010;38:515-22 ).

Dr. Ouzounian said she has no disclosures.