Children's Hospital Colorado
Colorado Fetal Care Center

Fetal Aortic Valve Stenosis

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What is aortic valve stenosis?

Normally, a heart is divided into two sides: a right half that pumps blood to the lungs to collect oxygen and a left half that pumps oxygen-rich blood to the body. These pumping chambers on each side are called ventricles. The aortic valve is located between the left ventricle and the aorta. The valve allows blood to flow out of the left ventricle into the aorta. The aorta then carries oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the rest of the body.

Aortic valve stenosis is a congenital heart defect that refers to obstruction of blood flow out of the left ventricle. Aortic valve stenosis occurs when a baby's aortic valve is unable to open completely. If the valve doesn't close properly, blood may leak backward into the left ventricle. This condition is called insufficiency.

Doctors may diagnose aortic valve stenosis during pregnancy (called fetal aortic valve stenosis) or after birth.

The degree of stenosis (obstruction) may range from mild to severe (critical aortic stenosis). Aortic stenosis may occur by itself or it may be present with other heart defects. These include ventricular septal defect, coarctation of the aorta, interruption of the aortic arch or hypoplastic left heart syndrome.

What causes aortic valve stenosis?

The exact cause of aortic valve stenosis is unknown. Aortic stenosis is often seen in multiple members of the same family, which means the condition may be genetic. However, the exact gene that is affected is yet undiscovered. Infants born with aortic stenosis may have family members with other left-sided obstructive heart disease, such as coarctation of the aorta or hypoplastic left heart syndrome.

Who gets aortic valve stenosis?

Aortic stenosis is more common in males. Aortic stenosis may occur as a single condition or it may occur with genetic conditions such as Turner syndrome or Williams syndrome. Bicuspid aortic valve, the most common form of aortic stenosis, is the most common congenital heart defect and may run in families.

At Children’s Hospital Colorado, both the Colorado Fetal Care Center and the Heart Institute care for patients with aortic valve stenosis.

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