Aortic valve stenosis is a type of congenital heart defect. Congenital heart defects are heart problems a baby is born with. These heart problems are usually diagnosed at or before birth.
"Aortic" refers to the aorta, one of the two main arteries attached to the heart. The aorta sends oxygen-rich blood (red blood) out to the body. The aortic valve is the gate through which the heart pumps blood into the aorta."Stenosis" means "narrowed."
In aortic valve stenosis, that gate is too narrow. The heart has to work harder to push blood through it. So the baby's body gets some oxygen but not enough. And over time, this can weaken the heart.
A baby with aortic valve stenosis may also have other heart defects.
Your baby may need special care, such as being in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). This may be scary for you. The hospital staff understands this. They will explain what happens and will answer your questions.
Your doctor may hear abnormal heart sounds, such as a heart murmur, when he or she examines your newborn.
Your doctor will order tests to find the cause of abnormal sounds or of symptoms. The most common test used to identify this defect is called an echocardiogram, or "echo" for short. It uses sound waves to make an image of your baby's heart.
Your baby may have other tests, such as an ECG or EKG (electrocardiogram), chest X-ray, and checking the amount of oxygen in the blood.
A fetal ultrasound, which lets your doctor see an image of your baby before birth, sometimes finds this defect.
Symptoms depend on how much narrowing there is in the valve. If there is only a little narrowing, there may be no symptoms.
When the narrowing is more serious, symptoms may include:
Your doctor will help you understand your baby's condition, your treatment choices, and what to expect from each choice.
Your doctor may use a procedure called a balloon angioplasty to stretch the valve so that it is more open. Your baby will be asleep during this procedure. The doctor puts a thin tube into a blood vessel. This may be a blood vessel in your baby's groin. Or it may be one of the vessels in the belly button.
The tube is called a catheter. It contains a tiny uninflated balloon. The doctor moves the catheter through the blood vessel to the heart. The doctor feeds the balloon into the valve and then inflates it for a short time to stretch open the valve.
Your baby may need open-heart surgery to repair or replace the valve.
Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.
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Current as of: July 22, 2018
Thomas M. Bailey, MD, CCFP - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
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