Recommendations for the management of prosthetic valve thrombosis

Maria Lengyel, Dieter Horstkotte, Heinz Völler, Wilhelm P. Mistiaen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

100 Citations (Scopus)


Prosthetic valve thrombosis (PVT) is a life-threatening disease, for which treatment strategies have been controversial. Herein, existing data on management options are reviewed, and conclusions drawn as to the choice and use of treatment strategies for PVT. The use of transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) allows distinction to be made between obstructive and non-obstructive PVT by the presence or absence of occluder motion limitation. The differentiation of PVT from pannus and vegetation is, however, still limited by TEE. The incidence of PVT has been underestimated by not taking into account a large percentage of non-obstructive PVT. Although the standard treatment for PVT has been surgery, thrombolysis has lower mortality rates, particularly in patients in NYHA functional classes III-IV. The lowest complication rates with thrombolysis have been achieved in patients with non-obstructive PVT. Pregnancy, left atrial appendage thrombi and large PVT are not contraindications to thrombolysis. The third therapeutic option is anticoagulant therapy. The detrimental effect of anticoagulant treatment in obstructive PVT was shown in a prospective study. Non-obstructive thrombi of >5 mm length have been treated with higher success rates and lower complication rates by thrombolysis than by anticoagulant treatment. In conclusion, all patients with suspected PVT should undergo multiplane TEE. Thrombolysis is the first-line treatment for obstructive PVT, independent of NYHA class and thrombus size if there are no contraindications. Serial TEE studies must be conducted during thrombolysis. Surgery should be reserved for those patients in whom thrombolysis is contraindicated, or has failed. Initial anticoagulant therapy is recommended only for small, non-obstructive PVT if anticoagulation had been subtherapeutic; otherwise, thrombolysis is the treatment of choice if there are no contraindications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)567-575
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Heart Valve Disease
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2005


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

Cite this

Lengyel, M., Horstkotte, D., Völler, H., & Mistiaen, W. P. (2005). Recommendations for the management of prosthetic valve thrombosis. Journal of Heart Valve Disease, 14(5), 567-575.