Options for Heart Valve Replacement

Heart valve replacement surgery may be considered if a malfunctioning valve cannot be repaired.

Heart valve replacement surgery may be performed if repair surgery is not a treatment option for a malfunctioning flap in one of the four valves that control blood flow through the heart. When a heart valve does not function properly, it can interfere with blood flow and force the heart to work harder to pump blood to the rest of the body. A heart valve replacement can help restore normal blood flow, alleviate the symptoms of structural heart disease and preserve the function of the heart muscle.

Conditions Treated

Heart valve replacement surgery may be appropriate for treating several types of valve disease, including:

  • Valve regurgitation – Caused by a leaking valve, regurgitation occurs when blood flows backward through the valve.
  • Valve stenosis – A valve is narrowed or obstructed by inflammation or a thickened flap, making it more difficult for the heart to pump blood.
  • Congenital heart disease – At birth, a valve may be the wrong shape or size, or it may have insufficient flaps or no opening to allow normal blood flow.

Procedure Details

The optimal surgical approach will depend on the valve that requires replacement, the extent of the damage, the severity of the symptoms and the patient’s overall health.

Options for heart valve replacement include:

  • Placement of a mechanical valve – A surgeon replaces the damaged valve with an artificial valve made of durable materials.
  • Placement of a biological valve – A surgeon replaces the damaged valve with a tissue valve from a donor.
  • Ross procedure – A surgeon moves one of the patient’s healthy heart valves into the position of the damaged valve, then replaces the “borrowed” valve with a new valve.
  • Transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) – Using minimally invasive techniques, a surgeon places a new valve without removing the damaged valve.

What to Expect

A full recovery from heart valve replacement surgery typically takes four to eight weeks. Immediately afterward, the patient is encouraged to get up, walk around a bit and breathe deeply. In the days and weeks that follow, most patients gradually resume eating and drinking, regain their energy and return to their normal activities.

The cardiovascular team at Tampa General Hospital is dedicated to providing the latest treatment options and the highest level of care for our cardiac patients. TGH is proud to have received numerous accreditations and certifications from the American College of Cardiology, including Heart Failure Accreditation for our commitment to quality patient care.