Heart Valve Replacement
Ninety-five percent of valve replacements are performed on mitral or aortic valves. Two types of prosthetic valves are available: mechanical and tissue (biological).
Copyright 2007 David DiAngelis
- Mechanical valves are man-made and are designed to take over for the natural heart valve. To prevent blood clots from developing on the valve, mechanical valve recipients take anticoagulation medicine daily.
- Tissue valves have been taken from an animal heart. Prior to implantation, the valve is chemically treated and prepared for human use. Tissue valves typically last as long as mechanical valves. Anticoagulation therapy is usually needed only during the immediate postoperative period.
During the surgery, the heart is stopped so the surgeon can operate on it. A heart-lung machine keeps blood circulating throughout the body. The surgeon accesses the heart by making an incision down the center of the chest and separating the breastbone. A tube is put in the right atrium to carry blood from the body to the machine. Another tube is placed in the aorta to circulate the blood back through the body. The term “bypass” describes this method of bypassing the heart and lungs.
The surgeon removes the damaged valve next, after making an incision in the heart or aorta. The replacement valve is sewn into place, the incisions are sewn up, and the heart-lung machine is removed.
Heart Valve Disease
Last updated: 14-Aug-07