Heart valve surgery repairs, and in some cases, replaces damaged or diseased heart valves. Repairs most frequently occur in the mitral valve, but the aortic and tricuspid values may occasionally require surgical intervention. Heart valve repair provides certain benefits to the patient including a lower risk of infection, reduced need for blood thinner medicines and maintained heart muscle strength.
At Riverview Cardiac Surgery, we work with patients to determine the best approach to treating diseased valves. Traditional heart valve surgery requires an incision down the chest to obtain access to the heart.
In some cases, patients are candidates for minimally-invasive surgeries which reduce the duration of hospital stays and speed recovery. For heart valve repair, there are two locations to gain access to the heart – partial upper sternotomy (smaller incision in the center of the chest) or thoracotomy (small incision in the right section of the chest).
- Commissurotomy: When valves become fused or narrow, leaflets stick together. This procedure separates the leaflets with small incisions to widen the valve opening.
- Decalcification: Calcium deposits are cleaned off the valve leaflets. Removing calcium deposits restores flexibility and the ability to close properly.
- Reshaping: When a leaflet becomes deformed, a surgeon will cut a section to modify the shape allowing the valve to close properly.
- Triangular Resection: When a portion of the mitral valve leaflet is flaccid and bows back into the left atrium, a segment may be cut out and the leaflet sewn back together, allowing the valve to close more tightly.
- Annulus Support: If the valve annulus is too wide, it may be reshaped or tightened by sewing a ring around the annulus (annuloplasty). The ring may be made of tissue or synthetic material.
- Patched Leaflets: When the tissue of the leaflet weaken, the surgeon will cover holes or tears with tissue.