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Aortic valve replacement gives you a new aortic heart valve. The new valve may be mechanical or made of animal tissue. You and your doctor can decide before surgery which type of valve is best for you.
The aortic valve opens and closes to keep blood flowing in the proper direction through your heart. When the aortic valve does not close properly (aortic valve regurgitation) or is very tight and narrow (aortic valve stenosis), blood does not flow through the heart the right way.
You will be asleep during the surgery. In an open-chest surgery, your doctor will make a cut in the skin over your breastbone (sternum). This cut is called an incision. Then the doctor will cut through your sternum to reach your heart. In a less invasive surgery, your doctor will make a cut between your ribs. Your sternum is not cut.
The doctor will connect you to a heart-lung bypass machine, which is used to add oxygen to your blood and move the blood through your body. This machine will allow the doctor to stop your heartbeat and replace the valve.
After the doctor has replaced your aortic valve, he or she will restart your heartbeat. Then the doctor may use wire to put your sternum back together. Your incision will be closed with stitches or staples. The wire will stay in your chest. The incision will leave a scar that may fade with time.
You may stay in the hospital for 3 to 8 days after surgery.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Having surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect and how to safely prepare for surgery.
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Current as of: April 9, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
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