Valve Surgery

There are four valves in your heart: aortic, mitral, pulmonary, and tricuspid. These valves guide the blood flow in the proper direction. Valvular heart disease is any disease that involves one or more of the heart’s valves. Treatment can help relieve symptoms such as shortness of breath and weakness and may help prolong life.

Sometimes valve disease can be treated with medication, but depending on the severity of the problem, valve repair surgery or replacement surgery (insertion of an artificial heart valve) is necessary. At Hackensack University Medical Center, our cardiac surgeons are experts in performing all types of valve surgeries with excellent outcomes, including aortic valve repair and replacement and complex mitral valve repairs. 

If possible, your valve will be repaired. Some valve repair procedures include: resection, commissurotomy and decalcification. If repair isn’t possible, the valve will be replaced. There are 2 types of replacements: tissue and mechanical. Tissue valves (also known as biological valves) are usually made from pig or cow tissue.  Blood does not clot as easily on tissue valves, so you may only need warfarin or aspirin for a short time. Tissue valves can wear out faster than mechanical valves. Mechanical valves are made of metal or hard carbon. There are many different designs. These types of valves require therapy for life with an anticoagulant such as warfarin, which is used to help prevent blood clots. 

Although traditional open heart surgery is still the standard for many patients, in certain patients with isolated valve disease, a minimally invasive approach can be taken. Using this approach, the surgery is performed through a small incision, providing access to the heart and lungs for surgical procedures such as aortic valve replacements, and mitral valve repairs and replacements. Your surgeon will determine what is the best approach for your surgery and discuss that with you.

In patients who may not be appropriate candidates for traditional or minimally invasive valve surgeries, percutaneous options allow a replacement valve to be delivered and placed through a catheter that is threaded through blood vessels rather than performing open heart surgery. Our interventional cardiologists and surgeons have extensive experience with percutaneous treatments for valvular heart disease. Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is a new alternative for some patients with aortic valve stenosis. This minimally invasive procedure allows us to repair a valve without removing it. Learn more about TAVR here.


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