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Home > Our Services > Conditions and Treatments > Heart Valve Surgery

Heart Valve Surgery

 

 


 

Overview

 

There are four valves in your heart made of thin and strong flaps of tissue that open and close as your heart pumps to make sure that blood flows in the right direction through your heart. However, valve problems may occur either because of a birth defect, or aging, or even from certain diseases.

 

Your damaged valves can either be repaired or replaced through a Heart Valve Surgery.

 

Your surgeon will always try to save as much of your valve as possible unless this affects the result of the surgery. If the repair fails, he will replace the valve at the same operation.

 

Valves can be replaced by:

  • Mechanical Valves

- artificial manufactured valves

- lasts a long time

- risk of that a blood clot can form, so you will need to take blood thinning drugs (anticoagulants)

 

  • Bioprosthetic valves(pig or cow tissue) and Allograft valves (human valve tissue)

-you will probably not need to take anticoagulants except for the first few weeks after the surgery

-may require surgery every 10-15 years as they wear out faster

 

There are a few methods for Heart Valve Surgery:

 

Surgical

  • an incision will be made down the middle of your chest
  • your breastbone is separated
  • you will be placed on a heart-lung machine

 

Minimally invasive surgery

  • "key hole surgery"
  • Operations is performed through small incisions
  • Special instruments are passed through and the surgeon uses a video monitor to see the inside of your chest

 

How should you prepare for the surgery? 

 

  • You should stop smoking at least four weeks before surgery to enable faster recovery and to reduce the risk of complications. In fact, you should think about stopping smoking for good
  • You should eat a healthy balanced diet and rest well before the surgery

 

What happens during the surgery?

 

Before the surgery:

  • All the necessary tests (e.g. blood tests, X-Ray etc) will be done two weeks before your admission to hospital
  • In this way, you will only need to be admitted the day before surgery, helping you save on your hospital bill
  • Should any of your tests be abnormal, you can be treated in time so as not to delay surgery
  • You are admitted on the day before surgery- A team of doctors will check you to make sure that everything is in order
  • They will explain to you again the surgery and other details. You can address any further concerns with them
  • You get to visit the Cardiac Surgery Intensive Care Unit (CTICU) where the nurse will explain to you what to expect after the surgery
  • The anaesthetist  will visit you and explain the anaesthetic procedure
  • You will be given a mild sedative to help you sleep that night
  • You will not be allowed to eat or drink after midnight

 

On the day of the surgery:

  • Further sedation will be given on the morning just before the operation
  • An antibacterial soap will be used to clean you the night before and on the morning of the surgery to reduce the risk of wound infection

 

What happens after the surgery?

  • The surgery will usually take between three to five hours after which you will be looked after in the CTICU for one to two days
  • The chest tubes and urinary catheter will be removed and you will be transferred to the ward
  • You will stay for another three to four days before discharge
  • Total recovery usually takes four to six weeks
  • You will be given follow-up dates to see your surgeon - at the second week after the operation
  • Your surgeon may want to see you more frequently if there is a need
  • At the same time, you will also be seen by your family doctor and cardiologist

 

 

What are the potential risks or complications?

 

Complications are not common, but some can be serious.

  • If you are receiving valves made from animal tissue, over time, these valves may develop calcium deposits which may hamper the valve's function. When this happens, the valve will have to be replace
  • Blood clots may develop on the surface of the substitute valve. When these blood clots dislodge, they may get wedged in an artery. However, this can be treated with drugs or surgery.
  • There is a risk of infection of the heart muscle, but this can be treated with intravenous antibiotics.

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