Abnormal Longitudinal Growth of the Aorta in Children with Familial Bicuspid Aortic Valve

Nadorlik, Holly; Bowman, Jessica; Fitzgerald-Butt, Sara; Mah, May; McBride, Kim; Kovalchin, John; Garg, Vidu
December 2017
Pediatric Cardiology;Dec2017, Vol. 38 Issue 8, p1709
Academic Journal
Bicuspid aortic valve (BAV) is the most common type of congenital heart defect (CHD) and is associated with clinically significant cardiovascular complications including valve calcification and ascending aortopathy (AscAo), predominantly occurring in adulthood. While a limited number of genetic etiologies for BAV have been defined, family members of affected individuals display BAV along with other left-sided CHD. This has led to guidelines from the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology that recommend echocardiographic screening of first-degree relatives of affected adults. While potentially beneficial in adults, the yield of such screening in children is unknown. The purpose of this study was to investigate a cohort of children with familial BAV to determine the frequency of development of AscAo, and to identify risk factors that contribute to abnormal aortic growth. Echocardiograms over a 10-year follow-up period were reviewed on 26 patients with familial BAV [22 male, 4 female; 22 with isolated BAV, 6 with BAV and aortic coarctation (CoA)]. All had a family history of CHD and were recruited from 2005 to 2010 as part of a genetics research study. Four aortic segments (annulus, root, sinotubular junction, ascending aorta) on parasternal long-axis echocardiographic images were measured by a single observer. The mean age at first echocardiogram was 7.1 ± 5.5 and that was 13.8 ± 6.2 years at the last echocardiogram. Only patients with > 2 echocardiograms in the 10-year period were included. Z score measurements of the aorta were plotted over time and based on these the cohort was divided into two groups: Group 1 (abnormal)- Z score for any segment > 2 or a change in Z score > 2 over follow-up; Group 2 (normal)- Z score < 2 throughout follow-up and change in Z score < 2. Nineteen out of 26 children displayed abnormal aortic growth or dilation of the aorta. BAV with right/left cusp fusion was more frequent in Group 1 (15/18) versus Group 2 (3/7) ( p < 0.05). There were no significant differences in gender, aortic valve dysfunction, presence of CoA, family history, cardiac function, presence of left ventricular hypertrophy, or medication use between the 2 groups. In our longitudinal study of children with familial BAV, the majority display evidence of abnormal growth of the ascending aorta during the follow-up period consistent with AscAo and support the extension of current adult guidelines to the pediatric population. While we find that right/left cusp fusion is a risk factor for abnormal aortic growth, additional studies are needed to identify other factors to better select children who require serial screening.


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