Valvular surgery is a surgical procedure performed for the management of heart valve diseases, which cause dysfunction of the valves. It involves the repair or replacement of the diseased or damaged heart valves.
The heart has four valves: tricuspid valve, pulmonary valve, mitral valve, and aortic valve. The four heart valves must function appropriately to ensure proper circulation of blood through the heart. Heart valve disease results from a dysfunction of one or more of these valves.
Valvular surgery is performed under general anesthesia. During traditional heart valve surgery, a large incision is made over the breastbone, to gain access to the heart. A heart-lung bypass machine is used to stabilize the heart and maintain the blood supply to the body during the surgery. The surgeon then performs the repair or replacement of the damaged heart valves. Minimally invasive heart valve surgery is performed through smaller incisions. This results in minimal pain, shorter hospital stay, faster recovery, minimal bleeding, and reduced risk of infection.
There are two different types of valve surgery:
Valve Repair: This is often performed for valves with mild to moderate damage.
Valve Replacement: This is performed for seriously damaged valves. Here, the diseased valve is removed and replaced with a new valve. The replacement valves can either be biological or mechanical valves.
The need for heart valve repair or replacement depends on many factors, such as the type, cause, and severity of the valve disease, the symptoms, and general overall health of the patient. Valvular surgery helps to reduce the symptoms and improve quality of life.
As with all surgeries, valvular surgery is associated with a few risks. The degree of risk depends on your age, general health status, and severity of the valve disease. The benefits and risks associated with valvular surgery will be discussed with the patient by the surgeon prior to surgery.
You will be able to get out of bed within a day or two of the surgery and can return home within a week of the surgery. A complete recovery can take 2 to 3 months, depending on the age and condition of the patient. Anticoagulant drugs may be prescribed for these patients. The duration of the therapy depends on the nature of the replacement valve, a few weeks to 2–3 months in those with biological valves and lifelong for those with mechanical valves. These medications help prevent the blood from forming clots on or around the new valve.