What is heart valve repair or replacement surgery?
The heart is a pump made of muscle tissue. The heart has four pumping chambers: two upper chambers, called atria, and two lower chambers, called ventricles. To keep the blood flowing forward during its journey through the heart, there are valves between each of the heart’s pumping chambers:
- Tricuspid valve. Located between the right atrium and the right ventricle
- Pulmonary valve. Located between the right ventricle and the pulmonary artery
- Mitral valve. Located between the left atrium and the left ventricle
- Aortic valve. Located between the left ventricle and the aorta.
Why might I need heart valve repair or replacement surgery?
Valve repair or replacement surgery is done to correct the problems caused by one or more diseased heart valves.
If your heart valve(s) becomes damaged or diseased, you may have the following symptoms:
- Chest pain
- Breathing difficulties
- Edema (swelling) of the feet, ankles, or abdomen (belly)
- Rapid weight gain due to fluid retention
There may be other reasons for your healthcare provider to recommend heart valve repair or replacement surgery.
What are the risks of heart valve repair or replacement surgery?
Possible risks associated with heart valve repair or replacement surgery include:
- Bleeding during or after the surgery
- Blood clots that can cause heart attack, stroke, or lung problems
- Breathing problems
- Arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms)
There may be other risks depending on your specific medical condition. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your healthcare provider prior to the procedure.
During the Procedure
To help you learn about the procedure, your doctor may suggest a number of actions, including:
- Talking with different members of the surgical team, such as the anesthesiologist, surgeon, cardiologist, respiratory therapist, and nurses
- Discussing with family members the details of the operation
- Visiting the intensive care unit (ICU) where you may be sent for postoperative recovery
Heart Valve Repair
Heart valve repair is a surgical or minimally invasive procedure that corrects a heart valve that is not functioning properly. Heart valve repair usually involves the heart valve leaflets that open and close to pump blood through the heart. In some cases, your doctor may find that repairing your heart valve is the best way to treat your heart valve disease.
Heart Valve Replacement
When repair is not an option, replacing your damaged heart valve may be the most effective treatment for your condition. Heart valve replacement is a surgical procedure that replaces a damaged heart.
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