Valley Heart & Vascular Institute - Cardiac Surgery Procedures/Techniques
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The Center for Heart Valve Disease

You have been told you need heart valve surgery. Your first call should be to The Center for Heart Valve Disease at The Valley Hospital. Call us at 201-447-8377. Treatment of heart valve disease varies greatly nationwide. At the Center for Heart Valve Disease, surgeons have a special interest in repairing valves.

Minimally invasive techniques are used routinely, which lead to faster recovery and a return to normal activities quickly. Our surgeons review each patient’s case individually to develop the best treatments. Share your concerns with us and we will help you make the right decision. Make the Center for Heart Valve Disease your first choice for a second opinion.

What is Valvular Heart Disease?

Your heart’s valves are vital to the proper functioning of your heart. Their role is simple: they ensure blood flows in the proper direction. But valves may be damaged by a variety of conditions leading to narrowing (stenosis), leaking (regurgitation or insufficiency) or improper closing (prolapse). You may be born with valvular disease, or the valves may be damaged by such conditions as rheumatic fever, infections (infectious endocarditis), connective tissue disorders, and certain medications or radiation treatments for cancer.

Aortic Valve Stenosis and Valve Regurgitation

Valve stenosis is a condition in which the heart's aortic valve narrows, preventing the valve from opening fully, which obstructs blood flow from your heart into your aorta and onward to the rest of your body. Aortic valve stenosis usually results in an abnormal heart sound (commonly known as a “heart murmur”). Because the heart must now work harder, the muscle tissue becomes thicker. This leads to poor circulation in the body because smaller amounts of blood are leaving the heart. As a result, common symptoms of valve stenosis include shortness of breath, dizziness, and fatigue.

Valve regurgitation is a condition that occurs when the heart's aortic valve doesn't close tightly. Aortic valve regurgitation allows blood that was just pumped out of your heart to leak back into it. The leakage of blood may prevent your heart from efficiently pumping blood out to the rest of your body. If left untreated the condition can lead to enlargement of the cardiac chambers. Appropriate timing for surgery is critical to the long-term result.

Mitral Valve Disease

Valve Stenosis: Mitral valve stenosis is most frequently associated with rheumatic fever. Patients with mitral stenosis often experience shortness of breath, fatigue and, frequently, an abnormal heartbeat defined as atrial fibrillation.

Valve Insufficiency or Regurgitation: This is a clinical condition that makes the mitral valve leak. Blood returns to the left atrium and over time leads to enlargement of the chamber. This condition can also generate atrial fibrillation requiring for patients to be placed on blood thinners (the drug coumadin). Early (timely) repair may help avoid this sequence of events.

When the mitral valve leaks, it is frequently a function of one of three problems. An entity known as myxomatous degenerative disease can lead to rupture of the valve causing regurgitation. The second type is associated with inadequate blood supply to the heart. Coronary disease can cause the valve to leak. Thirdly, the valve may leak due to rheumatic disease. The valve calcifies, it retracts and does not close tightly, allowing for regurgitation.

Valve Surgery Techniques

Taking into consideration the patient’s age, medical history, type of heart problem, and lifestyle, our surgeons determine the best approach to valve surgery. The classical approach involves a median-sternotomy (opening of the chest in the center).

For minimally invasive aortic valve surgery, surgeons use an upper mini-sternotomy. Click here for a photo presentation on minimally invasive aortic valve surgery. Please note: The video is of an actual surgery taking place and may not be suitable for some individuals. You will need Flash Player 8 or higher to see the video. If the video does not play, click on the "Video requires..." line at the bottom of the window to install an updated Flash Player.

For minimally invasive mitral valve surgery, surgeons have two options: lower mini-sternotomy and mini-thoracotomy. Click here for a demonstration of a mitral valve mini-thoracotomy. Please note: The video is of an actual surgery taking place and may not be suitable for some individuals. You will need Flash Player 8 or higher to see the video. If the video does not play, click on the "Video requires..." line at the bottom of the window to install an updated Flash Player.

Valve Surgery Techniques

For more information, please contact us at 201-447-8377 or send an e-mail to webinfo@valleyhealth.com.

 
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