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Mitral valve replacement is most often done as an open-heart surgery. Minimally invasive types of surgery may be another option. The damaged mitral valve is removed and replaced with a new heart valve. The damaged valve is cut out. Then the new valve is sewn in place. 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 mitral valve opens and closes to keep blood flowing in the proper direction through your heart. When the mitral valve does not close properly, it's called mitral valve regurgitation. If the valve is very tight and narrow, it's called mitral valve stenosis. In both of these cases, blood does not flow through the heart the right way.
During valve surgery, you are given general anesthesia. In an open-chest surgery, the 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 may make a smaller cut between your ribs. Your sternum isn't cut.
The doctor will likely connect you to a heart-lung bypass machine. It adds oxygen to your blood and moves the blood through your body. This machine will allow the doctor to stop your heartbeat while working on your heart.
After replacing your mitral valve, the doctor 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 will fade with time.
You may stay in the hospital for a few days after surgery.
Surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for surgery.
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Current as of: December 2, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Rakesh K. Pai MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
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