Published on January 28, 2013

Surgical options in aortic valve repair or replacement

If your aortic valve is no longer pumping blood the way it should, minimally invasive procedures may hold the key to better health.

Compared with traditional open heart surgery, these procedures involve less pain, blood loss and risk of infection, and recovery is much faster.

“Over the last 15 years, there have been so many advances in surgery and the medical care of valve disease,” says Steven Weiss, MD, director of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Mercy Fitzgerald.

“Experienced surgeons using these techniques can now help more people live better lives.” The aortic valve keeps blood flowing from the heart to the rest of the body. When the valve doesn’t open fully, a condition known as aortic stenosis, the heart has to pump harder and less blood travels to your body. Another condition called aortic valve regurgitation occurs when the valve fails to close completely, allowing blood to leak back into your heart.

At Mercy Fitzgerald, the cardiac surgery team is specially trained to perform minimally invasive aortic valve repair or replacement.

During the procedure, a small incision is made in the chest and the valve is replaced with one that is either mechanical or biological.

For high-risk patients who are not able to tolerate surgery, the medical team provides an exciting new option called transluminal aortic valve replacement that places a balloon-expanded, stented artificial valve inside the diseased aortic valve. This widens the valve and increases blood flow.