Bicuspid Aortic Valve
What is a bicuspid aortic valve?
The left ventricle is the lower pumping chamber
of the heart. The aorta is the large blood vessel
that takes oxygen-rich blood out to the body. The
aortic valve allows the blood to flow from the
ventricle into the aorta. Most often, this valve has
three leaflets. A bicuspid aortic valve only has
two leaflets. It is not known why some people
are born with only two leaflets. This does run in
Why does this matter?
The aortic valve’s job is to fully open and close to
allow blood out to the body. When the valve has
only two leaflets, it may not open and close as it
should. When the valve does not open all the
way, it is called stenosis, or narrowing. When the
valve does not close all the way, it is called
insufficiency, or leakage.
An echocardiogram is a heart ultrasound. It can
find out if the valve is opening and closing as it
should. Sometimes, with a bicuspid aortic valve,
the aorta can dilate (increase in size). The test
will also look at the aorta to find out if it has
increased in size. You will have
echocardiograms to watch for these problems.
They will be every 6 months, yearly, or every few
years. Your cardiologist will decide how often
one is needed.
What does it mean if my child has a bicuspid
Most with a bicuspid valve do not have any
problems during their childhood. Antibiotics are
not needed before a visit with the dentist. For
most people, activity is not restricted. You
should avoid isometric exercises. This is when
you hold a muscle in a fixed position, such as
weight lifting in which there are not light
repetitions. Your cardiologist can explain more
At some point, most often later in life, the valve
may need to be fixed. This will depend on how
narrow the open valve is or how much the valve
leaks. There are a number of options to fix the
valve. You can discuss this further with the
Who Do I Call With Questions?
The doctor, nurse or our clinic staff can answer
Pediatric Cardiology (608) 263-6420
Adult Congenital Heart Disease (608) 890-5700
Garson, A., Bricker, J.T., Fisher, D. J., Neish, S.
R. (1998). The Science and Practice of Pediatric
Cardiology, 2nd ed.
Keane, M.G., Sutton, M. (2007). Causes and
clinical course of unoperated congenital aortic
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you have any
questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This is not medical advice.
This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each person’s health needs are different, you
should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using this information. If you have an emergency, please call
911. Copyright © 10/2017. University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the
Department of Nursing. HF#6866