Diagnosis

To diagnose aortic valve stenosis, your doctor may review your signs and symptoms, discuss your medical history, and conduct a physical examination. Your doctor may listen to your heart with a stethoscope to determine if you have a heart murmur that may indicate an aortic valve condition. A doctor trained in heart disease (cardiologist) may evaluate you.

Your doctor may order several tests to diagnose your condition and determine the cause and severity of your condition. Tests may include:

  • Echocardiogram. This test uses sound waves to produce video images of your heart in motion. During this test, specialists hold a wandlike device (transducer) on your chest. Doctors may use this test to evaluate your heart chambers, the aortic valve and the blood flow through your heart. A doctor generally uses this test to diagnose your condition if he or she suspects you have a heart valve condition.

    This test can help doctors closely look at the condition of the aortic valve, and the cause and severity of your condition. It can also help doctors determine if you have additional heart valve conditions.

    Doctors may conduct another type of echocardiogram called a transesophageal echocardiogram to get a closer look at the aortic valve. In this test, a small transducer attached to the end of a tube is inserted down the tube leading from your mouth to your stomach (esophagus).

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG). In this test, wires (electrodes) attached to pads on your skin measure the electrical activity of your heart. An ECG can detect enlarged chambers of your heart, heart disease and abnormal heart rhythms.
  • Chest X-ray. A chest X-ray can help your doctor determine whether your heart is enlarged, which can occur in aortic valve stenosis. It can also show whether you have an enlarged blood vessel (aorta) leading from your heart or any calcium buildup on your aortic valve. A chest X-ray can also help doctors determine the condition of your lungs.
  • Exercise tests or stress tests. Exercise tests help doctors see whether you have signs and symptoms of aortic valve disease during physical activity, and these tests can help determine the severity of your condition. If you are unable to exercise, medications that have similar effects as exercise on your heart may be used.
  • Cardiac computerized tomography (CT) scan. A cardiac CT scan uses a series of X-rays to create detailed images of your heart and heart valves. Doctors may use this test to measure the size of your aorta and look at your aortic valve more closely.
  • Cardiac MRI. A cardiac MRI uses magnetic fields and radio waves to create detailed images of your heart. This test may be used to determine the severity of your condition and evaluate the size of your aorta.
  • Cardiac catheterization. This test isn't often used to diagnose aortic valve disease, but it may be used if other tests aren't able to diagnose the condition or to determine its severity.

    In this procedure, your doctor threads a thin tube (catheter) through a blood vessel in your arm or groin and guides it to an artery in your heart.

    Doctors may inject a dye through the catheter, which helps your arteries become visible on an X-ray (coronary angiogram). This provides your doctor with a detailed picture of your heart arteries and how your heart functions. It can also measure the pressure inside your heart chambers.