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Rupture of a Sinus of Valsalva Aneurysm: Put it in your Differential Diagnosis for CHF

Commentary

Rupture of a Sinus of Valsalva Aneurysm: Put it in your Differential Diagnosis for CHF

Author Information:
David E. Allie, MD
In this issue of Vascular Disease Management, Zavala-Alarcon et al1 present an interesting look at an uncommon cardiovascular problem and the unique opportunity to “witness” a potentially highly morbid event if not diagnosed and treated properly. Aneurysms of the aortic root involving the sinuses of Valsalva (SVA) are a distinct entity from atherosclerotic ascending aortic aneurysms or aneurysmal dilatation associated with a bicuspid aortic valve. The authors have done a nice job describing the pathogenesis and clinical signs and symptoms of SVA. I will reserve my comments on what I believe to be the important “take home messages” from this interesting case report. Rupture of a SVA in the United States is indeed rare, primarily due to earlier diagnosis by echocardiography in the pediatric patient population. The average age of rupture is 30 years, and in my 25 years of experience, I have treated 4 cases (2 ruptures). SVA comprise 0.1–3.5% of U.S. congenital cardiac anomalies and are most often managed by pediatric cardiologists. SVA prevalence is significantly higher in Asians, therefore SVA should be high on the differential diagnosis for any young Asian male (male/female ratio is 4:1) presenting with cardiovascular symptoms or with an asymptomatic murmur. As mentioned by the authors, SVA is almost always associated with other anomalies, including ventricular septal defect and aortic insufficiency as exhibited in this case. Treatment has historically been surgical with 2 In general, surgical correction should be recommended after a short period of medical stabilization, as most of these patients are young and healthy otherwise. Survival is rare 3,4 In general, associated anomalies will preclude percutaneous closure but ideal selected anatomic cases have been successfully treated with the AMPLATZER® Atrial Septal Occluder (AGA Medical Corporation, Golden Valley, Minnesota).5 Any consideration for percutaneous closure should be reserved for very selected high-risk surgical cases and be attempted only at very experienced centers. In conclusion, SVA should be on the differential diagnosis with any young patient, especially Asian, who presents with new onset of any cardiovascular symptoms, including shortness of breath, chest pain, or congestive heart failure.
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