JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Extensive calcification of the mitral valve anulus: pathology and surgical management.

Extensive calcification of the mitral valve anulus is a pathologic entity frequently associated with degenerative valvular disease. The calcification process remains localized to the anulus in 77% of the cases. It may extend, however, to the underlying myocardium. Whenever an operation is necessary for an associated valve insufficiency, the question arises whether it is preferable to repair or to replace the valve and how to manage the calcification. In the first part of this paper the pathology of this disease is studied, and in the discussion a mechanism is proposed to explain the development of the process of calcification. In the second part, a new operation is described, which comprises the temporary detachment of the leaflets, en bloc resection of the calcium deposit, annular reconstruction, and valve repair. For patients in whom the calcification extends to the myocardium a "sliding atrioplasty" of the left atrium is described, which allows the area of exposed muscular fibers to be covered. Between 1986 and 1994, among 68 patients with extensive calcification of the anulus and severe mitral valve insufficiency, 67 benefited from these repair techniques. Ages ranged from 18 to 82 years (mean 62 years). Thirty-two patients had a billowing mitral valve (Barlow), 27 a fibroelastic deficiency, and two Marfan's disease. The calcification involved more than one third of the anulus in 88% of the patients, the posterior anulus in 10.5%, and the whole anulus in 1.5%. The calcification process extended to the myocardial wall in 12% of the patients and to the papillary muscles in 4.5%. In the group of 67 valve repairs, there were two hospital deaths (2.9%), no instances of anulus dehiscence, and no early reoperations. The follow-up period extended from 4 months to 8 years (mean 3 years 8 months). There were two late deaths, 2 and 17 months after the operations, for an actuarial survival of 93% at 7 years. Late reoperation (6 to 62 months) was necessary in four patients (6.4%) for residual mitral valve incompetence (n=2), hemolysis (n=1), or endocarditis (n=1). In one of these patients a new repair was possible, whereas the three other patients required a valve replacement. All patients but one survived the reoperation. Actuarial freedom from reoperation was 87% at 7 years. All 60 patients with valve repair were reviewed for this study by clinical examination and echocardiography. All but one were in functional class I or II. There was no incompetence or trivial residual mitral valve incompetence in 55 patients and moderate incompetence in five. Two thromboembolic events have been recorded for a linearized rate of 1%/pt-yr. This study shows that complete anulus decalcification and valve repair can be done safely in patients with mitral valve insufficiency and extensive calcification of the anulus, even when the calcification process deeply involves the myocardium. It also demonstrates that an initially good result remained stable up to 7 years.

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