DESPITE continuing advances in cardiac valve surgery, it remains clear that valve replacement with any prosthesis is a palliative and not a curative procedure.1 Every patient with an artificial heart valve is subject to an ongoing risk of a variety of complications that vary with different prostheses but that are common to most. Follow-up studies report that nearly half of all patients surviving valve replacement are dead or have experienced serious complications by ten years after operation.2 Meticulous medical management and a clear understanding of the more common problems with artificial valves are crucial in avoiding complications or in recognizing them early for prompt and appropriate care.
Prosthetic-valve endocarditis is a continuing and life-threatening risk in patients with artificial heart valves. A valve prosthesis increases the patient's vulnerability to endocarditis and makes eradication of the infection difficult. Prosthetic endocarditis occurring early after operation (within 60 days)
Kloster FE. Complications of Artificial Heart Valves. JAMA. 1979;241(20):2201-2203. doi:10.1001/jama.1979.03290460061028