Any aortic valve (AoV) operation in children (repair, Ross or mechanical replacement) is a palliation and reinterventions are frequent. AoV repair is a temporary solution primarily aimed at allowing the patient to grow to an age when more definitive solutions are available. We retrospectively analysed AoV repair effectiveness across the whole age spectrum of children, excluding neonates and AoV disease secondary to congenital heart disease.METHODS
From 2003 to 2015, 193 consecutive patients were included. The mean age was 9.2 ± 6.9 years (22% <1 year); 86 (45%) had a preceding balloon valvuloplasty. The indications for the procedure were stenotic (n = 123; 64%), regurgitant (n = 63; 33%) or combined (n = 7; 4%) disease. The procedures performed were commissurotomy shaving (n = 74; 38%), leaflet replacement (n = 78; 40%), leaflet extension (n = 21; 11%) and neocommissure creation (n = 21; 11%). Post-repair geometry was tricuspid in 137 (71%) patients.RESULTS
The 10-year survival rate was 97.1%. Freedom from reoperation and replacement at 7 years was, respectively, 57% (95% confidence interval, 47-66) and 68% (95% confidence interval, 59-76). In multivariate analysis, balloon dilatation before 6 months, the absence of a developed commissure, a non-tricuspid post-repair geometry and cross-clamp duration were predictors for reoperation and replacement. After a mean follow-up period of 5.1 ± 3.0 years, 145 (75%) patients had a preserved native valve, with undisturbed valve function (peak gradient <40 mmHg, regurgitation ≤mild) in 113 (58%).CONCLUSIONS
Aortic valve repair in children is safe and effective in delaying the timing for more definitive solution. Surgical strategy should be individualized according to the age of the patient. Avoidance of early balloon dilatation and aiming for a tricuspid post-repair arrangement may improve outcomes.