Your cardiologist may refer you to a MedStar Health cardiac surgeon to repair or replace your heart valve if medication has failed to reduce the strain on your heart and has not alleviated symptoms.
Your cardiac surgeon may recommend one of the following surgeries, depending on your pathology and what is causing the problem:
- Heart valve repair is the preferred treatment option, because using your own tissue is better than replacing a heart valve.
- Heart valve replacement can be performed using a variety of valves, including mechanical and biological tissue valves (those from pig or cow tissue). Mechanical valves require the use of blood thinners but have good long-term durability. Biological valves do not require use of long-term blood thinner.
- Valve sparing is a relatively new technique used to treat aortic disease. Your heart surgeon can preserve your own valve while repairing the aorta.
Heart valve surgery (whether valves are repaired or replaced) is open-heart surgery that is done while you are under general anesthesia. A cut is made through the breastbone (sternum). Your blood is routed away from your heart to a heart/lung bypass machine. This machine keeps the blood circulating during your heart surgery.