The Heart Center at Lurie Children’s is dedicated to monitoring and caring for more than 1,000 infants, children and teenagers with bicuspid aortic valve (BAV) disease. BAV is the most common form of congenital heart disease, affecting between 1-2% of the general population.
A normal aortic valve has three leaflets that open symmetrically. Individuals with a BAV are born with an aortic valve that either has two leaflets or fusion between two of the leaflets so that the valve opens abnormally and over time can become obstructed (stenosis) or leak (regurgitation). Patients with BAV are also at increased risk for progressive enlargement of the aorta, which can lead to the development of aortic aneurysms, aortic dissection (a tear in the aorta) and/or rupture.
The above illustration shows a 4-D flow MRI scan. The image on the right demonstrates flow disturbances in a BAV patient with aortic stenosis, compared to a control subject on the left with a normal tri-leaflet aortic valve. The healthy patient's aorta shows a cohesive forward flow pattern. In the BAV patient, blood flow is directed at an abnormal angle along the front and rightward side of the aorta, which places increased stress on the aortic wall.
Source: Michael Markl, MD, Associate Professor of Radiology & Biomedical Engineering, Director of Cardiovascular MR Research, and Alex Barker PhD, Assistant Research professor in Radiology, Northwestern University.