Atherosclerosis of the aorta is common in patients with severe aortic stenosis: an intraoperative transesophageal echocardiographic study Academic Article uri icon


  • Objective Several studies have recently reported an association between aortic valve calcification and atherosclerosis of the cardiovascular system, suggesting that aortic valve calcification might represent an atherosclerosis-like process. Hence the aim of the present study was to determine whether there is a similar association between aortic stenosis and aortic atheromas. Methods We evaluated the records and echocardiographic videotapes of 91 consecutive patients with severe aortic stenosis who underwent intraoperative transesophageal echocardiography before aortic valve replacement to measure the presence and characteristics of aortic atheromas. There were 50 men (55%) and 41 women (45%). The mean age was 71.9 ± 9.4 years (range, 34–91 years). These patients were compared with 91 sex-and age-matched patients without aortic stenosis who underwent transesophageal echocardiography for various indications. Aortic atheroma was defined as localized intimal thickening of 3 mm or larger. A lesion was considered complex if there was a plaque extending 5 mm or more into the aortic lumen; if the lesion was protruding, mobile, or ulcerated; or both. Results The aortic stenosis group had significantly higher rates of aortic atheromas (85% vs 37%, P < .001) and complex atheromas (47% vs 9%, P < .001) compared with the control group. In the vast majority of patients in the aortic stenosis group, the aortic atheromas were localized in the aortic arch (60 [66%] patients, with 50% being complex aortic atheromas) and in the descending aorta (70 [77%] patients, with 45.7% being complex aortic atheromas); in only 4 (4.4%) patients, the aortic atheromas were localized in the ascending aorta (50% complex aortic atheromas). Conclusions There is a strong association between the presence of severe aortic stenosis and the presence and severity of aortic atheromas, suggesting that aortic stenosis might be a manifestation of the atherosclerotic process. These findings imply that (1) aggressive atherosclerotic risk-factor modification for patients with aortic stenosis might be advisable and (2) consideration of evaluation of the aorta by means of transesophageal echocardiography before aortic valve replacement in selected patients might be helpful.

publication date

  • January 1, 2005