Imaging adult patients with discrete subvalvar aortic stenosis

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Purpose of review

Distinction between discrete subvalvar aortic stenosis and other causes of left ventricular outflow obstruction has important implications for predicting natural history and guiding the timing and type of intervention. Imaging, primarily transthoracic echocardiography (TTE), plays a pivotal role in the diagnosis and management of adults with subvalvar aortic stenosis.

Recent findings

Most systematic research on imaging of subvalvar aortic stenosis has focused on echocardiography. TTE, especially two-dimensional imaging with color and spectral Doppler, remains the main modality for delineation of the anatomic and hemodynamic features of subvalvar stenosis, associated anomalies and involvement of accessory mitral valve attachments to the subaortic septum or abnormally placed papillary muscles. Transesophageal echocardiography may provide more detailed definition of left ventricular outflow tract anatomy, including the presence and extension of the obstructive subaortic fibroelastic tissue onto the aortic or mitral valve, especially in patients with poor transthoracic windows. The clinical role for advanced imaging technologies, including three-dimensional echocardiography, cardiac magnetic resonance and computed tomography, is evolving but, largely because of the adequacy of established imaging with TTE, remains relatively limited.


In the absence of other congenital heart defects or alternative indications (e.g. coronary angiography), TTE is usually adequate for the assessment of discrete subvalvar aortic stenosis in the adult. In specific clinical situations, supplemental imaging modalities can play an integral role in clinical decision making.

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