What Is Aortic Regurgitation (AR)?

The aorta is the main artery that delivers the oxygenated blood from the left ventricle to the body.  The blood passes through the aortic valve as it leaves the ventricle.

The valve has three cusps that meet in the middle like a Mercedes Benz symbol.  When the left ventricle contracts the blood passes through the valve, opening the three leaflets out of the way, so there is no resistance to blood flow.  When the ventricle relaxes the pressure in the aorta exceeds that in the ventricle and so the blood passes backwards and closes the valve.

For various reasons, the aortic valve leaflets may fail to seal together and therefore result in a leak of blood backwards from the aorta to the ventricle.  This leak of the aortic valve is called aortic regurgitation or aortic incompetence.

When the aortic valve function is severely compromised it needs to be mechanically repaired or replaced through an open chest operation by surgical aortic valve replacement (SAVR) or surgical aortic valvuloplasty (SAVV).  In Australia, replacement from the leg by a Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI) is not permitted.

Go to What Is a Surgical Aortic Valve Replacement (SAVR) Procedure?Go to What Is a Surgical Aortic Valvuloplasty (SAVV) Procedure?Back to What Are the Heart Valves?