Mechanical Prosthetic Valve Thrombosis: Case Report and Review of the Literature

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Mechanical prosthetic valve thrombosis is a life-threatening complication necessitating immediate intervention. The presenting signs and symptoms of this illness are somewhat variable, but physical examination and transesophageal echocardiography enable rapid diagnosis. To avoid catastrophic complications, valve replacement or debridement, or thrombolysis in the correct setting, must be performed without delay. It is not entirely clear which therapy is superior. For any given patient, the risks of thrombolytic therapy, including bleeding, systemic embolism, and failure to restore valvular function, must be weighed against the risks of surgical intervention. Once the decision is made to operate, the choice of valve replacement versus debridement is one best made intraoperatively, upon visual inspection of the valve apparatus. Despite aggressive therapy, morbidity and mortality from prosthetic valve thrombosis and its treatment are not trivial. Fortunately, with current prosthetic devices and aggressive prophylactic anticoagulation, the incidence of prosthetic valve thrombosis remains low. Antiplatelet therapy may offer additional benefit to patients being prophylaxed with warfarin. This report details the case of a woman with aortic and mitral prosthetic valves who presented with heart failure and evidence of severe aortic prosthetic dysfunction after a period of suboptimal anticoagulation. She successfully underwent debridement of the mitral prosthesis and replacement of the aortic valve. The relevant literature is reviewed.

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