The everyday used nomenclature of the aortic root components: the tower of Babel?

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Abstract

Modern analyses of data for scientific reporting and healthcare management purposes require standardized and consistent definitions, something which also holds true for aortic root surgery, as part of the cardiovascular surgery spectrum. The aim of the present study was to investigate the currently employed nomenclature of the aortic root components. A questionnaire was constructed on the terminology of aortic root components, providing a list of common definitions including anatomical descriptions, as well as fields for custom responses. Responses were received from 534 cardiothoracic surgeons registered at www.ctsnet.org. Remarkable variations in definitions were detected. The most unanimously accepted terms were: ‘aortic leaflets’, the freely moving parts (52.6% of responses); ‘commissures’, the distal part of the leaflet attachments plus the peripheral area of the free edges of the leaflets (52.2%); ‘semi-lunar leaflet attachment’, the anatomic site of leaflet attachment (58%); ‘annulus’, the circular line defined by the nadirs of the leaflets (38%); ‘interleaflet triangle’, the tissue between two leaflets and annulus (23%); ‘aortic valve’, the three leaflets only (55%); ‘aortic root’ as composed of sinuses, tissue between the leaflets, sinutubular junction, leaflets and their wall attachment (63%). The remarkable variability on the everyday-used definitions of the aortic root components can potentially lead to misinterpretation of data. More stringent adoption of consistent, standardized definitions of aortic root components is necessary in the modern era of data collection and management.

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