Heart Valve Surgery

For blood to go in only one direction, forward, it must pass through the heart valves, which function as one-way doors, opening and shutting with each beat of the heart. Just as there are four chambers to the heart, there are four heart valves. Blood must pass through one of these valves each time it leaves a chamber.

Unfortunately, valves sometimes malfunction. There are two major problems that can occur with heart valves, stenosis / narrowing and regurgitation / leaking.

Stenosis

This means narrowing of the heart valve so that blood cannot pass easily through it. The primary problem is usually calcium deposits but can also result from a previous infection or a congenital malformation.  Despite the reason for the narrowing, the result is a malfunctioning valve which often requires replacement.

Regurgitation

This means blood goes backwards through the valve. The valve is leaky. The valve acts like a one-way door that will not shut all the way. Another name used for regurgitation is insufficiency. The problem is usually tissue that has degenerated, or sometimes from infection.

You and your doctor will decide on whether you need valve repair or replacement and, if replacement, which type of valve is implanted. Minimally invasive valve surgery may also be an option, depending on multiple factors.

Most mitral valve disorders can be repaired, and our surgeons are experts in this procedure. There are a wide variety of techniques to enable us to repair these valves. However, there are some instances where the valve is too diseased for repair, and replacement is necessary. The aortic valve usually requires replacement.