Out of the four valves of the heart, the most common form of heart valve replacement is that of the aortic valve. Patients are seen to be more at the risk of aortic stenosis where the aortic valve narrows down, creating a hindrance to the flow of blood. In such case, the aortic valve is surgically replaced for steady flow of the blood.
What are the Types of Valve Used in Heart Valve Replacement Surgery?
Basically, there are two types of valves used for the replacement surgery. They include-
Mechanical Valves- Such form of valves are made out of metals are durable, plastics and even ceramics. Mechanical valves have to be attached to the heart tissues with a form of sewing ring once the damaged valve is taken out, in order to replace it. Although the mechanical valves are pretty durable, a patient may have to have blood thinners throughout his life in order to prevent the occurrence of blood clots.
Biological Valves- These are not made artificially from metals or any other source. There are further sub-categories of biological valves. They are not as durable as the mechanical valves and have to be replaced within a time period of five years or so.
What are the Sub Categories of Biological Valves Used for Replacement Surgery?
Xenograph: One of them is called a xenograph, which is basically an animal valve usually taken from a pig or cattle. These are engineered to fit the requirements of a human heart.
Homograft: Sometimes valves of donated human heart can also be used for replacement surgery. Such a form of valve is called a homograft or even an allograft.
Ross Procedure: Sometimes, the tissue of the patient who has to undergo a valve replacement surgery is used. The surgery involves replacing the damaged valve with a pulmonary valve which functions normally. This method is called the Ross procedure. This method is usually done for infants who have congenital heart valve issues and in young adults.
Can the Minimally Invasive Valve Surgery Procedure Be Used In Aortic Valve Replacement?
Although the minimally invasive aortic valve surgery is quite a new concept, it is practiced by many surgeons over the globe due to its excellent precision and very limited incision on the patient’s body. Also called the robotically-assisted valve surgery, it can be done in the following procedure-
- An incision of two to three inch may be done near the breastbone of the patient in order to divide the muscles to reach for the aortic valve.
- Once the aortic valve is exposed, the sound is viewed by the surgeon in a three dimensional image on a computer.
- Robotic hands along with long and slender tools are used to replace the damaged aortic valve with a more functional one. The hands and tools are essentially manipulated by the surgeon by viewing the heart on the monitor. This way the surgeon gets to have an accurate precision without having to cut a large amount of the patient’s chest as in open heart surgery.
- Such a form of robotic heart valve replacement surgery may not be available in all hospitals as it is comparatively a new process and is quite advanced.
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