Replacement of a heart valve is necessary for individuals suffering from valve diseases or severe condition of a leaky heart valve. Although surgery is cost-effective, it requires the opening of the chest region and use of heart-lung bypass machine. After the operation, the patient resides in the hospital for a week or more, as the doctor monitors for post-operation effects. It also requires a lengthy recovery period. Opting for open heart surgery is a risky procedure, especially for seniors, who suffer from other health problems and are fragile.
Can a Heart Valve Be Replaced Without Open Heart Surgery?
A heart valve functions as a one-way valve that allows the blood to flow out pumped by the heart. A malfunction or leakage in the valve causes severe side effects and heart failure. The progression of the dysfunction is slow, and therefore, makes it difficult for a doctor to sense its presence in its initial stage.
Replacing the damaged heart valve without open heart surgery is possible with the treatment known as transcatheter aortic valve replacement or TAVR. The less invasive surgery is an alternative to the open heart surgery, this requires a shorter stay in the hospital, and offers quick recovery. Until today, the Core Valve and Sapien Valve received approval in the United States for use in non-invasive surgery for replacement of heart valve in people where the open heart surgery is too risky.
The TAVR Procedure for Heart Valve Replacement
The transcatheter aortic valve replacement or TAVR surgery is a minimally invasive procedure where the surgeon utilizes biological valve made of cow or pig tissue. Surgeon places it on a deflated balloon at the tip of the catheter tube. The doctor inserts the tube into the blood vessel from the thigh and moves it slowly until it reaches the opening present between the aorta and the heart. Once it reaches the problematic valve, the doctor expands the balloon to mate the biological valve with that of the older valve.
The recovery of patients in such a case for heart valve replacement is faster when compared with that of the open heart surgery. The reason is that doctors use conscious sedation where the patient is able to speak even when the operation is underway. In many cases, the patients head home after two days.
Like every other heart valve surgery, the transcatheter aortic valve replacement does have its share of disadvantages. The use of a pacemaker is high when compared with that of the open heart surgery. The reason is that the electrical system of the heart situates just below the aortic valve. As the surgeon is deploying a new valve, the expansion of the balloon can push the frame onto the electrical system. Because of this, the patient can experience irregular rhythm in a heartbeat. The open heart surgery avoids the risk.
The cost of heart valve operation using TAVR approach is an additional drawback. It is at least six times expensive than the open heart surgery, even if the patient leaves the hospital within two days.
Comparing both the treatments is challenging because the use of the less invasive surgery is useful for people who have high risks involved when opted for the open heart surgery.
Surgeons are expecting that the less invasive heart valve surgery will improve in the upcoming years and also decrease in cost of operation. It is even possible to replace the heart valve without cutting open the heart even in people with intermediate risk. Studies are underway and will provide an opportunity for all those who require heart valve replacement and suffering from moderate symptoms.
Opting for transcatheter aortic valve replacement for is profitable only if a patient qualifies for the same.
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