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Minimally-Invasive Aortic Valve Replacement

Aortic valve surgery from Holy Cross Hospital is done to replace the aortic valve in your heart. Blood flows out of your heart and into the aorta through the aortic valve. It opens up so blood can flow out. It then closes, keeping blood from flowing backwards.

An aortic valve that does not close all the way allows blood to leak back into your heart. This is called aortic regurgitation. An aortic valve that does not open fully will restrict blood flow. This is called aortic stenosis. Minimally invasive aortic valve surgery is done through much smaller cuts than the large cut needed for open aortic valve surgery.  Typically, the incision is no more than two inches.

The severity of aortic insufficiency can sometimes be reduced with medications, but aortic stenosis has no effective medical therapy. For this condition, the most definitive treatment involves surgical replacement of the valve with a prosthetic valve. Timely surgery is advised since significant delay can lead to irreversible congestive heart failure.

Aortic valve replacements require the use of cardiopulmonary bypass, otherwise known as “the heart-lung machine.” This permits Holy Cross surgeons to safely open the aorta and access the aortic valve in a bloodless field. In most cases, the heart is also stopped for about 1 hour to facilitate the replacement.

The operation involves opening of the aorta and removal of the diseased aortic valve leaflets. Commonly, calcifications around the valve must also be removed carefully. The resulting valve ring or annulus is then measured to select the size of the valve prosthetic. A series of sutures are then placed around the valve annulus and subsequently through the prosthetic valve. The valve is then lowered into the annulus and secured. The aorta is closed and the heart restarted. The total duration of the operation ranges from 2 to 3 hours.

Holy Cross Hospital was also the first hospital in South Florida to offer the Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) as a treatment for severe symptomatic aortic stenosis, using a newly FDA-approved artificial heart valve. This procedure gives new hope to patients who cannot undergo open heart surgery. Click here to learn more about TAVR at Holy Cross Hospital.

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