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Valve Replacement Surgery

If a patient has severe valve damage most likely the valve will need to be replaced. Valve replacement is most often used to treat aortic valves and severely damaged mitral valves. It is also used to treat any valve disease that is life-threatening. Sometimes, more than one valve may be damaged in the heart, so patients may need more than one valve repaired or replaced.

There are 2 kinds of valves used for valve replacement surgery:

  • Mechanical valves are made of synthetic materials. They are reliable, and last a long time. Because blood tends to stick to mechanical valves and create blood clots, patients with these valves will need to take blood-thinning medicines (anticoagulants).
  • Biological valves are made from animal tissue or taken from the human tissue of a donated heart. Sometimes, a patient's own tissue can be used for valve replacement.

One of the most crucial elements of valve replacement is the avoidance of patient prosthesis mismatch. This condition arises when the implanted valve is not large enough to provide the patient with full, normal blood flow. St. Francis surgeons are skilled in techniques to avoid patient prosthesis mismatch and every patient is studied at the time of surgery to ensure its absence. In addition, St. Francis is participating in an FDA trial that may reduce the anticoagulation requirement for patients undergoing mechanical heart valve replacement surgery.