Heart Valve Surgery
The heart contains four valves that allow it to work as a pump. Various diseases affect the function of these valves, and due to the variation in demands our bodies place on each of these valves the optimal treatment of each valve is different. Some valves are best treated by replacement while others by repair of the native valve. Our surgeons and cardiologist are well-versed in the criteria favoring either option and can help patients decide what treatment is right for them.
Diseases affecting the aortic valve frequently require the valve to be replaced. Fortunately, there are many excellent replacement valve options that are exceptionally durable and require no long-term anticoagulation. Repair of a person’s native aortic valve is occasionally possible in certain circumstances. Minimally-invasive options are available resulting in a very small, or no, surgical scar.
The mitral valve has a complex shape and function. Numerous studies have demonstrated that in most cases this valve should be repaired for the best possible patient outcomes, rather than undergo replacement. The most common method of repair is to remove the diseased portion of the valve, repair the defect, and prevent future expansion of the valve orifice by implanting a titanium ring. Long-term anticoagulation is not required in most cases.
Diseases of the tricuspid valve rarely affect that valve alone. Instead, repair is usually performed in conjunction with another heart procedure. Repair, versus replacement, is the norm for tricuspid disease. While uncommon, replacement of the tricuspid valve is sometimes required, and occasionally necessitates simultaneous implantation of a cardiac pacemaker. This is due to the close proximity of the heart’s natural pacemaker to the tricuspid valve.
As the gateway valve for blood traveling to the lungs (a less demanding circulation task), the pulmonary valve is rarely so diseased that it cannot perform its function. The exception is patients who have undergone heart surgery as a child, in particular those who have undergone correction of Tetralogy of Fallot.
For more information on heart valve surgery, please contact 619-532-9140 to speak to a health care professional.