Heart valve surgery is used to repair or replace diseased heart valves.
Blood that flows between different chambers of your heart must flow through a heart valve. Blood that flows out of your heart into large arteries must flow through a heart valve.
These valves open up enough so that blood can flow through. They then close, keeping blood from flowing backward.
There are four valves in your heart:
Valve replacement; Valve repair; Heart valve prosthesis
Before your surgery you will receive general anesthesia. You will be asleep and unable to feel pain.
In open surgery, the surgeon makes a large surgical cut in your breastbone to reach the heart and aorta. Most people are connected to a heart-lung bypass machine or bypass pump. Your heart is stopped while you are connected to this machine. This machine does the work of your heart while your heart is stopped.
Minimally invasive valve surgery is done through much smaller cuts than open surgery. There are several different techniques used:
If your surgeon can cover your aortic valve, you may have:
If your valve is too damaged, you will need a new valve. This is called valve replacement surgery. Your surgeon will remove your valve and put a new one into place. There are two main types of new valves:
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You may need surgery if your valve does not work properly.
You may need heart valve surgery for these reasons:
Some of the heart valve problems treated with surgery are:
The risks for any anesthesia include:
The risks for any surgery include:
The risks for cardiac surgery include:
It is very important to take steps to prevent valve infections. You may need to take antibiotics before dental work and other invasive procedures.
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For more information, see:
The average hospital stay is 5 - 7 days. Complete recovery will take a few weeks to several months, depending on your health before surgery.
The success rate of heart valve surgery is high. The operation can relieve your symptoms and prolong your life.
Mechanical heart valves do not often fail. Artificial valves last an average of 8 - 20 years, depending on the type of valve. However, blood clots can develop on these valvves. If a blood clot forms, you may have a stroke. Bleeding can occur, but this is rare.
The clicking of mechanical heart valves may be heard in the chest. This is normal.
Fullerton DA, Harken AH. Acquired heart disease: valvular. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 18th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2008:chap 62.
Otto CM, Bonow RO. Valvular heart disease. In: Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 62.
Bonow RO, Carabello BA, Chatterjee K, de Leon AC Jr., Faxon DP, Freed MD, et al; 2006 Writing Committee Members; American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force. 2008 Focused update incorporated into the ACC/AHA 2006 guidelines for the management of patiens with valvular heart disease: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines (Writing Committee to Revise the 1998 Guidelines for the Management of Patients with Valvular Heart Disease): endorsed by the Society of Cardiovascular Anesthesiologists, Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions, and Society of Thoracic Surgeons. Circulation. 2008;118:e523-e661.