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Aortic Valve Replacement
- Mechanical—It is made entirely out of artificial materials.
- Bioprosthetic—This valve is made out of a combination of artificial materials and tissues from a pig, cow, or other animal.
- Homograft or allograft—The valve is harvested from a donated human heart.
- Ross procedure—In selected patients less than 50 years of age, another one of the patient’s own heart valves, the pulmonic valve, may be removed from its original location and sewn in to take the place of the faulty aortic valve. A homograft is then sewn in to take the original place of the pulmonic valve.
|Aortic Valve–Opened and Closed|
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Reasons for Procedure
- Rheumatic valve disease—a complication of streptococcal throat infection, which can damage the valve
- Endocarditis—an infection inside the heart that involves the valves
- Aortic aneurysms—an abnormal widening or outpouching of the aorta
- Aortic dissection—bleeding into the wall of the aorta, usually due to the presence of an aortic aneurysm
- Irregular heart beats
- Blood clot formation resulting in a stroke or kidney damage
- Valve does not function correctly
- Complications from anesthesia
- Chronic disease such as diabetes or obesity
- Other heart conditions
- Lung conditions
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
- Physical exam
- Blood tests
- Echocardiogram—This is a test that uses sound waves to produce a moving picture of your heart and its valves.
- Electrocardiogram—This is a test of the electrical system of your heart.
- Cardiac catheterization—For this test, a very thin tube is threaded through your aorta. Contrast dye is squirted through the catheter and x-ray images are captured. These images can reveal problems with the functioning of your aortic valve and also determine whether your heart arteries are free from disease.
Talk to your doctor about your medicines. You may be asked to stop taking some medicines up to one week before the procedure, like:
- Anti-inflammatory drugs
- Blood thinners
- Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your surgery, unless told otherwise by your doctor.
- Arrange for help at home after you return from the hospital.
- Arrange to have someone drive you home when you leave the hospital.
Description of the Procedure
After the Procedure
- Monitors to track your heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure, and the percentage of oxygen in your bloodstream
- A ventilator tube in your mouth and lungs to breathe for you, or an oxygen mask or tube to give you extra oxygen
- Tubes to drain extra fluid from your chest
- A tube that goes into your nose and down to your stomach to drain your stomach of excess fluid and gas
- A catheter in your bladder to drain urine
- An IV to provide fluids, electrolytes, and pain medicines directly into a vein
How Long Will It Take?
How Much Will It Hurt?
Average Hospital Stay
- Washing their hands
- Wearing gloves or masks
- Keeping your incisions covered
- Washing your hands often and reminding visitors and healthcare providers to do the same
- Reminding your healthcare providers to wear gloves or masks
- Not allowing others to touch your incisions
- If you have a mechanical valve, you will have to take blood-thinning medicines for the rest of your life. They are needed to keep clots from forming around the valve.
- Depending on the type of valve you have, you will need to take an antibiotic whenever you have dental procedures or certain surgical procedures.
- You may be referred to cardiac rehabilitation. This can help you regain normal functioning and reduce the chance of future problems.
- Be sure to follow your doctor's instructions.
Call Your Doctor
- Signs of infection, including fever and chills
- Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or any discharge from the incision site
- Shortness of breath, lightheadedness, or fainting
- Cough or chest pain
- Nausea and/or vomiting that you cannot control with the medicines you were given after surgery, or which persist for more than two days after discharge from the hospital
- Pain that you cannot control with the medicines you have been given
- Difficulty urinating, or pain, burning, frequency, urgency, or bleeding with urination
- Pain or swelling in your feet, calves, or legs
American Heart Association http://www.heart.org
Cleveland Clinic Heart Center http://www.clevelandclinic.org
The Society of Thoracic Surgeons http://www.sts.org
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada http://www.heartandstroke.ca
Townsend CM, et al., (eds). Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 17th ed. St. Louis, MO: WB Saunders Co.; 2004.
Zipes DP., ed. Braunwald’s Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 7th ed St. Louis, MO: WB Saunders Co.; 2005.
- Reviewer: Michael J. Fucci, DO
- Review Date: 03/2014
- Update Date: 00/50/2014