Valve Repair or Replacement

Valve Repair or Replacement is a surgical procedure used to treat heart valve diseases, which can affect the function of the heart's valves. Heart valves control the flow of blood through the heart, ensuring that blood moves in the correct direction and does not leak backward. When heart valves become damaged or diseased, they may need to be repaired or replaced to restore normal valve function. The choice between repair and replacement depends on various factors, including the type and severity of the valve disease and the patient's overall health.

Valve Repair: Valve repair is a surgical procedure that aims to preserve the patient's natural valve by repairing any structural abnormalities or damage. This approach is often preferred when the valve is still functional but has a specific problem, such as valve regurgitation (leakage) or stenosis (narrowing).

Common reasons for valve repair include:

  • Repairing torn or damaged valve leaflets.
  • Reshaping or resizing the valve to improve function.
  • Reinforcing or reconstructing the supporting structures around the valve, such as the annulus or chordae tendineae.
  • Correcting valve prolapse (when the valve bulges back into the atrium) by repositioning or shortening the chordae tendineae.

Valve repair is typically associated with several advantages, including the preservation of the patient's own valve, reduced risk of infection, and often a lower risk of long-term anticoagulant medication use. It can result in improved valve function and a return to normal activities for many patients.

Valve Replacement: Valve replacement involves the removal of the diseased valve and its replacement with a prosthetic (artificial) valve. This procedure is typically chosen when the valve damage is severe and cannot be effectively repaired or when the patient has multiple valve issues, making repair less practical.

There are two types of prosthetic valves:

  • Mechanical Valves: These are made of materials such as metal or pyrolytic carbon. They are durable and can last a long time, but they require lifelong anticoagulant (blood-thinning) medication to prevent blood clots from forming on the valve.
  • Biological Valves: Also known as tissue valves, they are typically made from animal tissues (such as porcine or bovine valves) or human donor tissues. Biological valves do not require lifelong anticoagulants but may have a limited lifespan and need replacement after several years.

The choice between mechanical and biological valves depends on the patient's age, lifestyle, and individual medical considerations.

Valve replacement is a highly effective treatment for patients with severely damaged heart valves. It can alleviate symptoms, improve overall heart function, and enhance the patient's quality of life. However, valve replacement may require lifelong medication (in the case of mechanical valves) and periodic follow-up to monitor valve function.

The decision to undergo valve repair or replacement is made on an individual basis, taking into account the specific valve condition, the patient's age and health, and the preferences of both the patient and the cardiac surgeon.

Valve Repair or Replacement