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Aortic Leak

  Hi, I had reconstructive chest surgery in Feb '98. I was then given an echocardiogram and they found an aortic leak. This Feb I go back for the followup surgery to finish everything up. I had another echocardiogram done just 2 days ago. It appears it is in the same condition. My Cardiologist said "This is not the type of thing that gets better" Yet, everywhere I read about them it is stated that they are known to close by themselves. Are there certain types of leaks that just can not close on their own? He said I may need to replace the valve in 15 or 20 years from now. Considering I'm 18, this doesn't give me a lot to look foward to.
  Thanks in advance,
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Dear Dave,
Most valve leaks do not repair themselves, as a matter of fact a good percentage
worsen over the years.
As for aortic leaks due to a dissection (crack in the wall), these can repair
themselves in a sense, however if the leak is following a surgical reconstruction
it will NOT repair itself; as well some aortic tears or cracks (those nearest the
heart) will not repair and are indications for surgery.
These are all very general answers because you do not really say what the diagnosis is
and it could be many things.
It is very good news, Dave, you do not need the valve replaced for years yet as
this may allow time for new procedures to emerge (better repair of valves as
opposed to replacement) that would make your repeat surgery less dramatic so to speak.
My advice to you is to make sure that the surgeons involved in your care are experienced
at repeat/repetitive open heart surgeries which is essentially what you are having done
(many surgeons have a lot of experience in first time repairs, but not in reconstructive
aortic surgery.)
I hope this information is useful. Information provided in the heart forum is for
general purposes only. Only your physician can provided specific diagnoses and therapies.
Feel free to write back with further questions. Good luck!
If you would like to make an appointment at the Cleveland Clinic Heart Center, please
call 1-800-CCF-CARE or inquire online by using the Heart Center website at
www.ccf.org/heartcenter. The Heart Center website contains a directory of the
cardiology staff that can be used to select the physician best suited to address your
cardiac problem.

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