Researchers at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago, aided by $3.3 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health, have launched a clinical trial to unlock the secrets of a widely seen inherited heart defect known as bicuspid aortic valve (BAV).
The disorder, in which patients have two flaps in the valve instead of the usual three, will be studied for the next five years by Dr. Paul Fedak, a cardiac surgeon with the Cummin School of Medicine, and Alex Barker, an assistant professor of radiology with Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern Medicine said in a release. The team hopes to perfect a surgical technique that will allow repairs on faulty valves causing the symptoms while also better predicting who will need the operation.
““Not all BAV patients are the same, yet they are currently treated the same when it comes to timing and extent of surgery,” Fedak said in the release. “Through this study, we can give clinicians and surgeons the tools they need to create precise, individualized treatment plans for patients.”
Barker said the study will use both cell examinations and advanced MRIs to map the patient’s circulation around a missing flap in the heart valve.
“The use of this novel imaging technology can provide a better understanding of the underlying cause of aortic aneurysms in addition to identifying the patients who are most at risk of complications,” he said in the release.