Prosthetic heart valve thrombosis is a rare, but serious complication of a heart valve replacement procedure. A blood clot called a thrombus is attached to or near a prosthetic heart valve. This can obstruct blood flow or interfere with the function of the valve.
Prosthetic heart valve thrombosis is a medical emergency.
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Prosthetic heart valve thrombosis is thought to result from an interaction between components of blood and the prosthesis, or blood flow in and around the prosthesis.
Factors that may increase your chances of prosthetic heart valve thrombosis include:
Prosthetic heart valve thrombosis may cause:
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam may be done.
Images evaluate your heart and surrounding structures. These may include:
Your bodily fluids may need to be tested. This can be done with blood tests.
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include:
The first line of therapy is usually thrombolysis, which are medicines that break up abnormal blood clots.
Anticoagulant medicines are used to control clotting. Anticoagulation therapy may be used alone in people with small clots that are not obstructing the heart valve.
In some cases, surgery to replace the valve may be necessary.
In people who have prosthetic heart valves, antithrombotic therapy is the best proven way to reduce your chance of prosthetic heart valve thrombosis.
American Heart Association
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Canadian Heart Research Centre
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
Anticoagulation overview. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/drug-review/anticoagulation-overview. Accessed September 15, 2020.
Heart valve surgery. Mount Sinai website. Available at:
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Accessed September 15, 2020.
Prosthetic heart valve dysfunction. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/prosthetic-heart-valve-dysfunction. Accessed September 15, 2020.
Roudaut R, Serri K, Lafitte S. Thrombosis of prosthetic heart valves: diagnosis and therapeutic considerations. Heart. 2007;93(1):137-142.
Last reviewed September 2020 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Michael J. Fucci, DO, FACC
Last Updated: 8/14/2020