What is heart valve replacement surgery?

Heart valve surgery is used to repair or replace damaged or diseased heart valves. A common precursor to heart valve surgery is heart valve disease, which happens when a heart valve does not close completely, which can cause blood to flow backwards, limit blood flowing forward, cause chest pains, shortness of breath, fainting, or heart failure. Undergoing heart valve surgery can be beneficial as it can ultimately result in a better quality of life.

What are the types of Heart Valve Surgery?

There are many different types of heart valve surgery, and your doctor will first evaluate the heart to decide which type of surgery is necessary.

There are four valves within the heart:

  • aortic valve
  • mitral valve
  • tricuspid valve
  • pulmonary valve.

With open surgery, the surgeon makes a large surgical cut in the breastbone to reach the heart and aorta. During open surgery, most people are connected to a heart-lung bypass machine or bypass pump, as the heart is stopped while you are connected to the machine, allowing the machine to do the work of the heart while the surgeons perform their tasks.

Other types of heart valve surgery are less invasive, and can be performed via smaller cuts than with open surgery, or through a catheter inserted through the skin. These techniques include valve repair, in which the surgeon trims, shapes, or rebuilds one or more of the leaflets of the valve, which is best for the mitral and tricuspid valves, as well as ring annuloplasty, during which the surgeon repairs the ring-like part around the valve by sewing a ring of plastic, cloth or tissue around the valve. If the valve is too damaged to repair, a new valve is put into its place. This procedure is known as heart valve replacement surgery.

There are many different types of new valves that can be used during heart valve surgery. They can include mechanical valves, made of man-made materials like metal or ceramic, biological valves, made of human or animal tissue, or a Ross Procedure may be performed, in which a surgeon takes the patient’s pulmonary valve and uses it to replace a damaged aortic valve. The pulmonary valve is then replaced with an artificial valve. Each of these procedures has its advantages and disadvantages, making it important to consult with a doctor to figure out which one is the best for the situation.

This page was last updated on: 1/29/2019 3:21:13 PM

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