Bicuspid Aortic Valve
A bicuspid aortic valve occurs when the aortic valve only has two cusps instead of three. In and of itself, the bicuspid valve usually is not a problem. It's recommended that people who have this type of valve have regular checkups and certain tests to monitor any progression of the condition. In most cases, no other treatment is necessary unless symptoms occur.
The aortic valve is on the left side of the heart. It separates the left ventricle and the entrance to the aorta, the artery that carries blood to the body.
Valves are like doors that open and close. They open to allow blood into the next chamber of the heart or into one of the arteries, and then they shut to keep blood from flowing backwards.
The aortic valve normally has three cusps (leaflets). A bicuspid aortic valve has only two cusps.
A bicuspid aortic valve usually functions normally during early life and middle age. But in some cases, young adults will have symptoms due to a thickening of the bicuspid aortic valve; this is called aortic stenosis. Leaking of the aortic valve can also occur; this condition is known as aortic valve regurgitation.
Up to 2 percent of the population is born with a bicuspid aortic valve. It is the most common congenital heart defect seen in the adult population. A bicuspid valve by itself does not cause symptoms.
Doctors diagnose a bicuspid aortic valve based on the patient's symptoms (if any), a physical exam, and certain tests and procedures. Tests that are used to make a diagnosis can include:
- Chest x-ray
- Cardiac catheterization.