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Aortic Valve Replacement
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

What is Aortic Valve Replacement?

Aortic valve replacement is an open-heart surgery. It is done to replace a malfunctioning aortic valve with a new one. The replacement valve may be:

  • Mechanical—It is made entirely out of artificial materials.
  • Bioprosthetic—This valve is made out of a combination of artificial materials and tissues from a pig, cow, or other animal.
  • Homograft or allograft—The valve is harvested from a donated human heart.
  • Ross procedure (self-donated)—In selected patients less than 50 years of age, another one of the patient’s own heart valves, the pulmonic valve, may be removed from its original location and sewn in to take the place of the faulty aortic valve. A homograft is then sewn in to take the original place of the pulmonic valve.

Aortic Valve–Opened and Closed
Aortic Valve–Opened and Closed
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

The aortic valve is located between the pumping chamber (ventricle) on the left side of the heart and the aorta (a major artery). The aorta carries oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the rest of the body. The valve should be closed while the heart is filling with blood. When the heart chamber squeezes to push blood into the aorta, the valve should open fully to allow blood flow.

Aortic valve replacement is done when the aortic valve is not working properly. The amount of oxygen-rich blood getting out to the body can be significantly decreased with a faulty valve.

Sometimes, the aortic valve is misshaped due to a birth defect. This is called congenital aortic valve disease. Other times, the aortic valve works well for years before becoming too stiff or too floppy to open and close...

Possible Complications

If you are planning to have a valve replacement, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Irregular heart beats
  • Scarring
  • Blood clot formation resulting in a stroke or kidney damage
  • Valve does not function correctly
  • Complications from anesthesia

Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

  • Other heart conditions
  • Lung conditions
  • Chronic illness, including high blood pressure and diabetes
  • Elderly age
  • Infections
  • Smoking
  • Obesity

Call Your Doctor

After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:

  • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
  • Redness, swelling,...