Minimally Invasive Heart Valve Surgery

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Minimally invasive heart valve surgery is a common procedure often used to repair or replace the aortic or mitral valves of the heart. Some of the common reasons as to why the mitral and aortic valves malfunction include a congenital abnormality which has been present since birth or an acquired disease which typically occurs as one ages. There are some instances where mitral valves have malfunctioned as the result of rheumatic fever or due to bacterial infections such as bacterial endocarditis. Coronary heart disease is also another common cause for valve malfunctioning. Once your doctor has recommended that you undergo such a procedure, there are a few facts that you need to be aware of before undergoing the procedure.

As the name suggests, minimally invasive heart valve surgery is performed through significantly smaller cuts than the large cuts typically used in open heart surgery. Before the surgery begins, you will receive general anesthesia which will make you unconscious and unable to feel pain. The surgeon will then make a cut through which he can repair or replace the damaged heart valve.

The actual procedure will vary based on the type of valve being repaired. For the mitral valve, repair may involve a ring annuloplasty or valve repair. The ring annuloplasty procedure involves repairing the valve by sewing a ring around it. The ring used may be made from metal, cloth or tissue. Valve repair, on the other hand, would involve trimming, shaping and rebuilding the leaflets of the valve which are responsible for the opening and closing of the valve.

Significant damage on the mitral or aortic valve may warrant a completely new replacement. There are two main types of new valves available for this type of minimally invasive heart valve surgery: mechanical and biological. Mechanical valves are made from man-made materials such as titanium and ceramic. These valves have the advantage of having a long-life. However, the main drawback would be that patients with this type of valve would be dependent on blood-thinning medication for the rest of their lives. Biological valves, on the other hand, are made from human or animal tissue and can last up to 12 years. One doesn’t need to take blood thinners if they have this type of valve.

Minimally invasive heart valve surgery would take anywhere from 2-4 hours. Aortic valve replacement is a longer surgical procedure and may take up to 6 hours to complete. There are a number of benefits associated with minimally invasive heart valve surgery such as decreased risk of infection, reduced blood loss as well as significantly less pain. Recovery times are also known to be much shorter.