Aortic Valve Calcification – Complementary parameter for Aortic Stenosis severity estimation

  • In around 40% of aortic stenosis (AS) cases assessment of severity is discordant – area-gradient mismatch: area is smaller but pressure gradient is low or reverse area-gradient mismatch where the gradient is higher and area stenosis is less severe.1,2
  • Measurement of aortic valve calcium (AVC) is an emerging parameter in cases with discordant echocardiographic findings.
  • Discordant findings are common in the elderly because they have concomitant coronary artery disease, left ventricle dysfunction and other valve lesions. This is a compelling reason to perform a multi-modality imaging for to accurately assess severity of AS who could definitely be benefitted from Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR).
  • AVC is obtained on non contrast, non ECG gated CT scan using the Agatston method.
  • Assessment of AVC is a useful tool for identifying patients who may benefit from TAVR.
  • Calcification of the mitral annulus, left ventricular outflow tract and coronaries should be carefully excluded from AVC measurement.
  • AVC score of more than 1300 in women and 2000 in men is considered as severe AS.
  • Sensitivity and specificity of this parameter are 82 and 78% respectively.
  • AVC has a strong prognostic value with a hazard ratio for mortality 2.11.
  • Indexation of AVC to body surface area did not add incremental prognostic value.
  • CT based AVC estimation has been recommended in the latest 2017 ESC guidelines on valvular heart disease as a complementary method to estimate the severity of AS.
  • The gold standard for estimation of AS severity is echocardiography and AVC is a complementary modality only.
  • In patients with area:gradient mismatch AVC has an excellent diagnostic value.
  • Compared to dobutamine stress echo this is a simple, faster tool. Also the risk of radiation is low.
  • Patients with less severe but significant CT AVC, frequent close monitoring of AS progression is needed.
  • Limitations of AVC:
    1. At times the AS pathology is predominantly fibrotic rather than calcific – eg. women with bicuspid aortic valve.
    2. Fibrotic leaflet thickening can also lead to hemodynamic obstruction that can’t be identified by AVC.

Aortic Valve

 

 

Aortic Valve

 

Aortic Valve

 

Aortic Valve

Conclusion:

Aortic valve calcification as measured by CT is an accurate, reproducible, and well-validated marker of stenosis severity, progression of disease, and a powerful predictor of adverse events.

In patients with discordant echo findings and are symptomatic estimation of AVC is a simple tool for those who benefit from TAVR or TAVI.

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