Bicuspid Aortic Valve Disease
Bicuspid aortic valve disease is a congenital defect affecting the aortic valve.
Improper Cusp Function Causes Leaks
Instead of having the normal three cusps (also known as flaps or leaflets) to control the direction and flow of blood, a bicuspid aortic valve has only two. With only two cusps, the valve may not function properly and is more susceptible to damage. The cusps may become stiff (stenotic) and unable to open or close properly, or the cusps may be unable to close tightly enough and cause backflow or "leaking" into the ventricle.
Higher Risk for Aortic Dissection and Aneurysm
A bicuspid aortic valve usually functions normally during early life and middle age. In some cases, symptoms will arise in young adulthood or later in life due to a thickening of the bicuspid aortic valve. This is called aortic stenosis. Leaking of the aortic valve, known as aortic valve insufficiency, can also occur. Bicuspid aortic valves are often associated with dilation (widening) of the aortic root and/or the ascending thoracic aorta. Patients with bicuspid valves are at higher risk for aortic dissection and aneurysm.