Glossary

Anticoagulant drugs

Used to reduce the ability of the blood to clot. Common anticoagulants include aspirin, heparin, and warfarin. People who have undergone Bentall’s procedure need to take anticoagulants to reduce the risk of clotting around the graft. Side effects of the medication can include haemorrhage (excessive bleeding), hair loss and osteoporosis. Should further surgery be required, the risks are increased since the patient may need to stop taking the drugs to prevent excessive bleeding during surgery and to promote healing. Some anticoagulants (notably warfarin) increase the risk of foetal abnormalities if taken during pregnancy.

Aortic aneurysm

A term for any swelling of the aorta. The condition places the patient at risk of aortic dissection and/or aortic rupture. It is a feature of Marfan syndrome.

Aortic dilation / dilatation

Terms for any swelling of the aorta. The condition places the patient at risk of aortic dissection. It is a feature of Marfan syndrome.

Aortic dissection

The rupturing of the media within the aorta. It can result in false aneurysm and other aortic complications and without immediate treatment can result in death.

Aortic root support

An external support placed around the aorta in those patients with aortic dilatation. It strengthens the aorta and prevents enlargement. The ExoVasc® provides aortic root support.

Ascending aorta

The largest artery in the human body. It brings oxygenated blood from the heart to all parts of the body.

Bentall’s operation

The standard operation for those with a dilated aorta. This major surgery removes the ascending aorta and its aortic valve which are replaced with an artificial fabric graft and mechanical valve. Following surgery, the patient needs to take anticoagulant drugs for the rest of his or her life to prevent clot formation on the graft.

Clinical trial

These are conducted to gather information on the safety and effectiveness of a new drug or medical device. They can only take place under licence from a health authority or ethics committee. Information must also have been gathered on the product’s quality and feasibility before a clinical trial can commence.

Echocardiogram

An echocardiogram uses ultrasound waves to build up a detailed picture of the heart. (A similar procedure is used for ultrasound scanning of pregnant women.) People with aortic dilation may have regular echocardiograms to monitor their condition.

Marfan syndrome

For more information, visit About Marfan Syndrome.

PEARS project

The Personalised External Aortic Root Support project which established the feasibility of the ExoVasc®.

Valve sparing procedure

An alternative to valve replacement in which the patient’s own aortic valve leaflets are retained and fixed within an artificial tubular graft that replaces the weakened aorta. The advantage of this approach is that lifetime anticoagulant therapy is not required. The procedure is only available in larger cardiac surgery centres and requires cardiopulmonary bypass.

Valve sparing surgery

An alternative to the Bentall procedure for those with an aortic aneurysm/aortic dilatation. The operation replaces the root of the aorta but does not replace the valve. It is also known as the David procedure or Yacoub procedure.