If you have aortic valve disease, such as aortic stenosis, you may need surgery to replace your heart valve. Aortic valve replacement (AVR) is surgery to remove the valve that keeps oxygenated blood flowing from the heart into the largest artery in the body (aorta). The new valve may be a mechanical valve, made of metal and plastic, or biological valve, which is taken from donated human or animal tissue.
The Cooper Heart Institute's Cardiac Surgery team is a high-volume center with particular expertise in aortic valve replacement, and has received the prestigious Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) "3 Star" rating for aortic valve replacement surgery.
Understanding the Procedure
Aortic valve replacement surgery can be performed using traditional open heart valve surgery or minimally invasive approaches.
During traditional aortic valve replacement surgery, the surgeon makes a large cut (incision) down the center of the chest. Then part or all of the breast bone (sternum) is divided, the heart is stopped, and blood is sent through a heart-lung machine to keep it pumping and oxygenated. The surgeon opens the aorta to reveal and remove the damaged or diseased valve. Then the mechanical or tissue replacement valve is sewn securely into place with stitches. Once completed, the heart is restarted and sternum is held together with wires.
During the minimally invasive approach, smaller incisions are used with or without the use of the heart lung machine. This approach typically reduces blood loss, and length of hospital stay.
Indications for the Procedure
Aortic valve replacement may be recommended for valves that are severely blocked (aortic stenosis) or diseased.