The heart contains 4 valves. These valves open and close each time the heart beats, allowing blood to flow in and out of the heart, then to the rest of the body. Sometimes, the valve openings can become blocked or leaky, causing unstable oxygen and blood flow issues to arise. The 2 valves most susceptible to failure are the aortic and mitral valves. Depending on the severity, a less-invasive valve repair procedure can remedy the blood flow issue, while other, more severe cases require a more extensive replacement procedure that involves open heart surgery and a donor or synthetic valve to replace the faulty one. Our team of skilled surgeons at Arizona Premier Surgery are qualified to assess each patient's medical condition and perform the appropriate valve replacements and repairs required, expediting their recovery and restoring the blood flow back to the heart.
Common Reasons for Surgery
Stenosis is a condition that refers to the narrowing of a heart valve. When this occurs, the opening to the heart becomes rigid and shrinks, making it more difficult for the heart to do its job. This causes stress to be placed on the heart and for it to pump harder, leading to weakened blood flow throughout the body.
Abnormal Heart Murmur
An abnormal heart murmur is simply a valve that is not functioning normally, causing an abnormal rhythm or sound when the heart beats. Abnormal heart murmurs can be attributed to certain diseases, such as endocarditis and rheumatic fever. It can also be caused by foreign materials that calcify and interrupt the blood flow.
Most commonly occurring in the mitral valve, a prolapse happens when the two openings to the mitral valve do not close normally, causing it to prolapse (protrude) into the left atrium. The result is a collapsed valve opening that can allow blood to leak or flow back into the heart when it contracts, causing a murmur.
Regurgitation means that blood flow is being leaked or recycled backward into the valve from which it came instead of flowing out into the body. This causes the heart to pump twice as hard to supply the necessary oxygen to the body.
About Valve Repair/Replacement
Depending on the severity of the patient's condition, and upon recommendations from a consulting surgeon, either a heart valve repair or replacement procedure will be administered. When a patient undergoes a repair of the aortic or mitral valve, a couple of options will be available. A repair requires a less-invasive procedure, involving minor incisions to be made along the chest. One of the most common options is a valvuloplasty, which involves a balloon to be attached to a catheter and guided into the narrowed or hardened valve. The balloon is then expanded and the valve returns to its normal shape. Another option is an annuloplasty, which involves a similar process of inserting a ring around the opening of one of the valves to reinforce and strengthen the faulty opening.
However, if the damage to the valve is too severe, then a replacement procedure is required, which involves the opening of the chest to expose the heart and valves, so the damaged valve can be replaced. The replacement valve can be a mechanical device, tissue from a donor, or one of your healthy valves that is moved into the place of the abnormal valve. After the valve is replaced or repaired, the surgeon will then close the incision and the heart will begin beating at a normal rhythm as normal blood flow will be restored. This procedure is performed as an inpatient surgery, lasting between 2 – 4 hours
What to Expect
A patient receiving a valve replacement or repair can expect to remain in the hospital for about a week following the procedure. After careful monitoring and ensuring that the healing process is successful, 3 – 4 weeks of at-home recovery will take place before the patient can proceed with their normal activities. A follow up appointment will be required 4 – 6 weeks after the procedure.
Plan Your Procedure
- Recovery Time
- 3 - 4 Weeks
- Average Procedure Time
- 2 - 4 Hours
- Post-op Follow-up
- 4 - 6 Weeks
- Procedure Recovery Location
Know Your Options
Our team of knowledgeable surgeons are highly-qualified to assess your condition and make the appropriate surgical recommendations tailored to your needs. Arizona Premier Surgery offers a wide range of options to treat aortic and mitral valve complications, giving each patient the best possible treatment method for a healthy life.