Aortic Valve Disease

Aortic Valve Disease

Aortic Valve Stenosis, Aortic Valve Regurgitation

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Aortic valve diseases, including aortic valve stenosis (narrowed valve opening) and aortic valve regurgitation (leaking valve), require evaluation and management by a cardiologist. Serious conditions may require surgery to repair or replace the aortic valve.

Duke’s aortic valve disease specialists use advanced testing to identify the severity of your condition and offer the latest medical and surgical treatments. Our goal is to help you feel better and return you to your normal activities.

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Our cardiologists and heart surgeons use a full range of therapies to treat aortic valve disease. When surgery is needed, our skilled heart surgeons repair or replace diseased aortic valves, often with minimally invasive techniques.


Medications may be prescribed to reduce and prevent aortic valve disease symptoms and complications. These may include ACE inhibitors or beta-blockers to lower blood pressure, antiarrhythmics to help maintain a regular heart rhythm, and anticoagulants to prevent blood clots.

Thoracotomy and Mini-Thoracotomy

Open-heart surgery for aortic valve repair or replacement may be performed through an incision in the mid-chest or a small incision in the upper-right chest, known as a mini-thoracotomy. If you need surgery, your surgeon will recommend the approach and procedure that are best for your needs and anatomy.

Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR)

Also called transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI), this minimally invasive procedure is used to treat aortic valve stenosis. The heart is accessed through small incisions, and a prosthetic valve is implanted within the diseased valve. TAVR can preserve or improve heart function, quality of life, and survival. Our specialists are skilled in the placement of all commercially available TAVR devices and use multiple delivery approaches (through the groin, neck, or chest). As a result, we are able to offer treatment options to people who have been turned away elsewhere.

Balloon Valvuloplasty

People who are not candidates for conventional valve repair or replacement may be offered this less invasive procedure. A balloon is threaded through a flexible tube called a catheter to your narrowed heart valve. The balloon is then inflated to open the narrowed valve.

Our Locations
Duke Health offers heart clinics in Durham, Raleigh, Cary, and other locations throughout North Carolina. Find one near you.


Depending in your condition, your doctor may recommend one or more of the following tests to evaluate and identify aortic valve disease.


Small electrodes are placed on your skin to record your heart’s electrical impulses. The tracings may help identify risk for or prior heart muscle damage.


An ultrasound probe is moved over the surface of your chest to capture moving images of your heart. This allows us to determine your heart’s chamber dimensions, shape, valve structures, and overall function.

3-D Transesophageal Echocardiogram

An ultrasound probe passed through your esophagus is used to capture sound waves that create highly detailed, close-up 3-D images of your heart’s chamber dimensions, shape, valve structures, and overall function.

Cardiac MRI

Radio waves, magnets, and a computer create still and moving images of your overall heart structure, heart muscle function, blood vessels, and surrounding structures.

Cardiac Catheterization

Flexible tubes called catheters are guided through a blood vessel to your heart to look for blockages and overall heart function. Contrast dye is injected and X-rays are taken to capture images of your heart, coronary arteries, and other blood vessels.

Genetic Heart Disease Testing

Congenital heart conditions such as Marfan, Ehlers-Danlos, and Loeys-Dietz syndromes can increase your risk for aortic valve disease. Comprehensive genetic testing and screening can help determine the best treatment approach for you and may help ensure the early diagnosis of your family members.

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Why Choose Duke

More Experience, Better Outcomes
As a high-volume center, we have extensive experience and consistently excellent outcomes with transcatheter aortic valve replacement, a minimally invasive alternative to open heart surgery.

More Minimally Invasive Treatments
Our heart surgeons offer minimally invasive techniques in which the surgeon reaches and repairs the aortic valve through small incisions -- which may reduce blood loss, scarring, and the risk of infection while speeding your recovery.

A Choice of Heart Valve Replacements
If you need a heart valve replacement, we offer mechanical valves made of carbon, as well as tissue valves made from animal tissue. We screen and educate you on the best alternative for your needs and lifestyle.

Duke University Hospital is nationally ranked in 10 adult specialties
Best Heart Hospital in NC
When it comes to your heart care, you want the very best. Duke University Hospital's nationally ranked cardiology and heart surgery program is ranked the best in North Carolina by U.S. News & World Report for 2019–2020.

Clinical Trials Access
As a Duke patient, you may be able to participate in clinical trials or therapies related to your particular needs and conditions that may not be available at other centers. 

Support for Your Recovery
Our cardiac prevention and cardiac rehabilitation program gives you a personalized plan for recovery after surgery and long-term management of your heart health. Your program includes exercise instruction, nutritional counseling, and lifestyle modification to optimize your health.

Reviewed: 11/21/2019