The aorta is the large artery that leaves the heart and provides oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. The aortic valve is present between the aorta and the lower chamber of the heart, opening up to allow blood to flow out of the heart and closing to prevent backward flow of the blood into the heart. When issues occur with the aorta or aortic valve, surgery may be necessary.
Aortic surgery may be performed to treat various conditions and illnesses affecting the aorta or aortic valve. These include:
- Aortic aneurysm
- Aortic dissection
- Aortic ulcers
- Aortic valve stenosis
- Aortic valve regurgitation
The specific issue that is being addressed will determine what type of aortic surgery needs to be performed. Below is a brief overview of some of the more common procedures:
- Aortic valve repair – This is done to treat leaking valves. A bicuspid aortic valve is repaired by reshaping the leaflets of the aortic valve so that the valve opens and closes completely.
- Open-chest surgery – Larger aortic aneurysms may be treated with open-chest surgery.
- Repair of valve tears or holes – Tears or holes in the valve leaflets are sewn with tissue patches.
- Aortic valve replacement – The damaged aortic valve is removed and replaced with either a mechanical, biological or human-donated valve.
What to Expect
Aortic surgery risks vary depending on factors such as your health and the type of procedure. Potential complications of aortic surgery can include:
- Blood clots
- Valve dysfunction in replacement valves
- Heart rhythm problems
Aortic surgery generally has a high long-term survival rate. Your specific outcome will depend on your lifestyle following surgery and the team of doctors performing the procedure. Tampa General Hospital’s Heart & Vascular Institute has highly experienced surgeons and advanced technology, allowing us to perform complex heart procedures, including aortic surgery.