What is Valve Replacement Surgery?
Heart valve replacement surgery is a procedure by which surgeons remove a damaged heart valve and substitute it with grafts or parts from body tissues or with synthetic heart valves to restore the normal functioning of the heart.
Heart valve replacement surgery is done under general anaesthesia and takes about four to five hours. The surgery is done either as an open-heart surgery where in the patient is put on a heart lung machine or rarely as beating heart surgery without the use of heart lung machine, while the patient’s heart is normally beating.
There can be various reasons for heart valve replacements like:
- Mitral valve regurgitation is a condition where the oxygenated blood flows backwards into the lungs as opposed to flowing through. Patients have angina arrhythmia and shortness of breath.
- Narrowed valve is one more reason for valve replacement in cases like aortic stenosis or mitral stenosis.
- When the valve is leaky, like in aortic regurgitation or aortic insufficiency, the condition requires valve replacements. Left untreated it may lead to heart failure.
Valve defects can be congenital that is a birth defect or can be a result of degenerative mechanism. Other causes for valve damage can be infections such as bacterial endocarditis or ischemic heart disease.
Aortic and mitral are the most commonly replaced valves whereas pulmonary and tricuspid are not commonly replaced. The replaced valves can be made either of tissues from animals or humans and mechanical valves made of man-made material.
- Tissue valve where animal or human donor is used
- Mechanical valve is made of durable materials
What is the Diagnosis for Valve Replacement Surgery?
The following tests may be done to conclude and diagnose valve diseases
- Transesophageal echocardiography
- Cardiac catheterization (also called an angiogram)
- Radionuclide scans
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
Procedure of Heart Valve Surgery
Heart valve surgery means repair or replacement of the diseased valves. In the surgery, some valves are repaired or mended to do its work properly. Replacement means removal of the diseased valves by a new valve. The procedures of heart valve surgery are :
- Valve Repairing : In the valve repair surgery, a ring is sewn around the opening of the valve to make tighter. The surgeons may cut the other parts or may separate and shorten it to help the valve open and close right.
- Valve Replacement : Sometimes by mending the valves, it is not possible to cure the unhealthy valve, and then replacement is required to get back its normal function. A prosthetic valve is used to replace. There are two types of prosthetic valves.
- Mechanical valves : These types of valves are made from man-made materials. While heart surgeons’ use this valve, lifetime therapy with an anticoagulant is prescribed to the patient.
- Biological (tissue) valves : The surgeons take biological valves from pig, cow or human donors. The longevity of biological valves is less than the mechanical valves.
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