Chicago, Feb 12: A new imaging technique holds promise for people suffering from a common congenital heart abnormality.
The technique for measuring blood flow in the heart and vessels can diagnose bicuspid aortic valve and may lead to better prediction of complications, shows research.
In the study, the authors demonstrated for the first time a previously unknown relationship between heart valve abnormalities, blood flow changes in the heart and aortic disease.
They showed that blood flow changes were driven by specific types of abnormal aortic valves, and they were able to directly associate blood flow patterns with aortic diseases.
“We hope that this imaging technique would facilitate early identification of high-risk blood flow patterns associated with progressive aortic enlargement, improving the allocation of health care resources in caring for patients with this prevalent condition,” explained Michael Markl, associate professor of radiology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.
“With the 4D flow MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), the researchers found blood flow in patients with bicuspid aortic valves was significantly different compared to that in patients with normal valves.
“We now have evidence that bicuspid valves induce changes in blood flow and that the type of flow abnormality may contribute to the development of different expressions of heart disease in these patients,” Markl added.
Bicuspid aortic valve is a heart condition in which the aortic valve only has two leaflets, instead of the normal three.
It is the most common congenital cardiovascular abnormality.
Despite the absence of symptoms, the condition can lead to significant and potentially life-threatening complications.
In addition, the knowledge of abnormal blood flow patterns could be important to better identify patients at risk for the development of heart disease, added the study published in the journal Circulation.