Valvular reconstruction or replacement surgery is sometimes needed to treat congenital or acquired defects of the heart valves or valvular disease. Before surgery, patients undergo diagnostic cardiac catheterizations and transesophageal echocardiograms by their cardiologists and then are referred to Dr. Garrett or Dr. Rhee.
The mitral valve plays an important role in maintaining blood flow in and out of the heart. When oxygenated blood enters the left side of the heart from the lungs, the mitral valve allows the blood to flow into the left ventricle, which is the main pumping chamber of the heart. When the heart pushes that blood out to the rest of the body, the mitral valve closes to prevent blood from leaking back into the lungs.
The function of the mitral valve can deteriorate over time and become abnormal due to age, congenital heart disease, or an infection. Mitral valve repair or replacement surgery treats the leakage (regurgitation) or narrowing (stenosis) of the mitral valve and restores healthy blood flow to the heart.
Mitral Valve Reconstruction
Mitral Valve Reconstruction is a surgical procedure to treat patients with mitral valve prolapse and mitral valve regurgitation. During the surgery, patients are placed on a heart lung bypass machine, which temporarily maintains blood circulation and oxygen in the patient’s body. The left atrium, which is one of the upper chambers of the heart, is opened and the mitral valve examined and the area of leakage identified and repaired. The framework(annulus) of the valve is then also reconstructed using annuloplasty ring to prevent further leaking.
Mitral Valve Replacement
Some valves are too damaged to repair and require replacement instead of reconstruction. Valves are replaced with either a bioprosthetic valve made out of porcine or bovine tissue or a mechanical value made out of metal, depending on the age of the patient and the size and position of the valve. Similar to Mitral Valve Repair surgery, patients are placed on a bypass machine while Dr. Garrett or Dr. Rhee surgically excises the old valve and replaces it with a new valve. During the surgery, the anesthesiologist will routinely check the new valve with a transesophageal echocardiogram to ensure that it is working properly.
After valve replacement or repair surgery, patients are moved to the Intensive Care Unit. Patients are then transferred to the CVT Step Down unit for recovery, where they remain for three to four days after surgery. At the time of discharge, patients can walk normally and maintain a regular diet. A follow-up visit in the office is scheduled a week after discharge.