Repairing a heart valve may only require minimally invasive surgery. There are four total heart valves in the heart. They are fairly tiny structures that are formed by leaflets. Some valves contain two leaflets, and others contain three. The leaflets form barriers within the heart to keep blood flowing forward. Heart valve disease can cause those leaflets not to function properly. If there are heart valve problems, surgery is required to repair the problem. The good news is, you do not have to have open heart surgery. Valves can be repaired through minimally invasive valve repair.
Heart Valve Disease
Heart valves can be affected by many different things including heart attack and hypertension. Congenital heart defects usually result in a heart valve that is too narrow to allow the proper amount of blood to flow through it. Narrowing of the heart valves may also happen with age. Calcium deposits tend to build-up on the heart valves leading to a smaller opening for blood to flow. A more common heart valve problem includes a leaky valve. When the heart valves do not seal shut, blood flows backwards also known as regurgitation. All of these problems can cause heart failure if they are not repaired.
Minimally Invasive Surgical Methods
There are several different methods for minimally invasive valve repair. One of the most commonly used methods is transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR). This method requires a small incision to be made in the chest. A catheter, carrying the replacement valve, is placed inside the incision and moved into place. The replacement valve is collapsed to make it easier for traveling through the heart to the right location. Once the catheter reaches the right destination, the new valve is expanded and pushes the old valve out of the way. The new valve now properly regulates blood flow.
Another method of minimally invasive valve surgery includes the use of a robot. The robotic arms act as the hands of the surgeon. The good part about using robotic arms is that larger cuts are not necessary. Robotic arms are much smaller allowing for smaller incisions to be made. In this method of surgery, the head surgeon controls the robot through a remote controlled machine. The surgeon moves the arms of the robots, in the same manner, they would move their arms to perform the surgery. The surgical team changes the tools and places them in the robot’s hands.
Another method of surgery still requires the use of a catheter but instead of going through a cut in the chest, the surgeon makes a cut in the leg. The catheter is placed in a blood vessel of the leg and travels through the cardiovascular system until it reaches the valve that needs repair. The catheter contains a camera that allows you to see inside the system and it will also contain either the replacement valve or a clip that may be used to repair the valve. Once the valve is fixed, the catheter travels back down the system and comes out through the leg.
Minimally invasive heart valve surgery is extremely beneficial for elderly patients. Surgery in older patients results in a higher risk because they tend to have more complications. This type of surgery is not only for elderly people. If you have other health related issues such as blood clotting problems, this surgery may also be for you. For extremely severe calcifications or aortic valve problems, minimally invasive heart valve surgery lowers the risk of other issues due to trauma. For those who do not qualify for minimally invasive heart valve surgery, open heart surgery is still an option.
Minimally invasive heart valve surgery has many benefits. Time is one of the biggest advantages.
The time for surgery is much shorter. With surgery time being cut short, blood loss is minimal, and risk of infection is lowered. Not only that, but recovery time is also shorter. Unlike open heart surgery, your body does not have to heal from a cut being made in the breastbone.
Healing from four small incisions is much quicker and results in less scarring. Hospital stay is also shorter. This is good because you are at a lower risk of having bed sores or hospital acquired infections. Minimally invasive heart valve surgery has changed the lives of many people. Being able to undergo heart surgery without having your chest opened is a major advancement in medicine. Minimally invasive heart valve surgery is dependent on many factors. These factors include health history, age, severity of the valve problem, and your overall health status. Although this is a good method of surgery, it is not for everyone. A physician will determine if you qualify for minimally invasive heart valve surgery. If you do, you will be back to your normal life in no time.
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