If your heart valve isn’t functioning optimally, aortic valve replacement surgery may be necessary. This condition occurs if you have aortic valve stenosis or regurgitation of the aortic valve.
Traditional aortic valve surgery requires an open-heart procedure called a median sternotomy and cardiopulmonary bypass machine to support your body. Now, minimally invasive aortic valve replacement (MIAVR) is available as an alternative solution for patients who meet standard criteria but cannot tolerate an open-heart operation.
What is a minimally invasive aortic valve replacement?
Minimally invasive aortic valve replacement surgery is a surgical option that repairs or replaces an abnormal heart valve without opening the chest. It’s often recommended for people with severe aortic stenosis (blockage) or insufficiency (regurgitation).
Aortic stenosis occurs when the aortic valve fails to close properly, allowing blood to leak back into the heart. This condition may lead to shortness of breath, fatigue or even death.
Patients suffering from aortic stenosis often feel better after undergoing valve repair surgery. A synthetic tube known as a graft can be implanted into the aortic root to repair this condition.
Grafts made from human, animal or porcine tissue are durable and less likely to clot than mechanical valves. Furthermore, they don’t need blood-thinning medication like mechanical valves do – which must be taken for them.
Miniatric aortic valve surgery, also known as minimally invasive aortic valve surgery, involves making a small incision to repair or replace an abnormal heart valve. Different approaches like mini-thoracotomy or hemi-sternotomy are used for this procedure.
To determine if you are eligible for a minimally invasive aortic valve replacement, your doctor will review your medical history and order tests to assess how well your heart functions. They then discuss with you the various surgical techniques available and any associated risks.
Traditional aortic valve surgery necessitates making a large skin incision down the center of your sternum, or breastbone, in order to access your heart. This incision usually measures 6-8 inches long.
For some patients, the incision may only be 2 to 3 inches using a hemi-sternotomy. In such cases, you may need to use a heart-lung machine to provide oxygen and other vital medications during surgery.
Depending on your health and the level of care needed, the procedure may take 2 to 3 hours. Your healthcare team will assist in helping you recover and resume normal activities.
After surgery, you may need to remain in the hospital for a few days for observation. Two or three tubes will remain in your chest to drain fluid from around your heart. Your recovery process typically lasts anywhere from one to two months.
What happens during a minimally invasive aortic valve replacement?
Minimally invasive aortic valve replacement surgery is a type of heart surgery that’s less invasive than traditional open-heart procedures. Miniature surgeries can reduce your risk for complications and expedite recovery time.
Your doctor will use specialized tools and a camera or robot to perform surgery on your chest. They’ll make several small incisions or holes in order to inspect and repair the aortic valve.
Your doctors may suggest that you stay in the hospital for a few days after your surgery, depending on how quickly you heal and your medical condition. They’ll give instructions regarding how to care for your incisions and which medicines you should take during recovery.
The doctor will also instruct you on how to watch for signs of infection, manage pain and resume normal daily activities. You must closely adhere to their instructions.
Some people require minimally invasive heart valve surgery due to a congenital heart defect or other medical conditions that affect their valves. These conditions may result in aortic stenosis or regurgitation, where blood leaks back into your heart instead of exiting it for circulation elsewhere in your body.
These conditions can lead to more serious health issues, such as heart failure and stroke. Not receiving timely treatment could increase your risk of death if left untreated.
Your doctor may suggest surgery if your symptoms worsen and don’t improve. They’ll also look into other potential causes of the symptoms and attempt to address them as well.
Aortic valve stenosis or regurgitation can lead to serious health complications, such as heart failure or stroke. You may experience shortness of breath, fatigue and chest pain when these conditions exist.
To determine if you are eligible for minimally invasive aortic valve surgery, speak with your healthcare provider. They’ll assess your condition and explain all available options to you, including minimally invasive surgeries.
Some patients may be eligible to have their aortic valve replaced with an artificial mechanical one (mechanical). These valves, made of carbon or titanium, last the rest of your life and provide long-lasting comfort.
How do I get ready for a minimally invasive aortic valve replacement?
Minimally invasive heart valve surgery is an alternative for some people who may not be suitable candidates for traditional open-heart surgery. It involves several smaller incisions of 2 to 4 inches without opening your entire chest, minimizing blood loss, trauma, hospital stay length and recovery time.
To determine if you are eligible for minimally invasive aortic valve replacement surgery, your doctor will review your diagnostic tests and discuss the available options with you. They might refer you to a medical center with surgeons and surgical teams with training and experience performing this type of surgery.
This approach has been shown to be more successful than standard open-heart surgery. It requires less trauma, requires a shorter hospital stay and provides better cosmetic outcomes.
Before your surgery, your healthcare provider will clean and prepare the area where the surgeon will work. You may receive a chest X-ray as well as other tests like an echocardiogram or EKG.
You may be given medications to help you relax. This will cause you to sleep deeply and painlessly during the surgery, with little or no memory of it afterward.
Your doctor can discuss with your family and friends what to expect during surgery. You may be able to go home the same day, or you may need to stay in the hospital for a few days. Following surgery, you’ll have an appointment with your surgeon about one week later to assess progress.
For optimal recovery, please follow your healthcare provider’s guidelines regarding diet and exercise. It is best to avoid strenuous activity for a while, such as lifting heavy objects or running. Furthermore, avoid putting undue pressure on the incision sites; doing so may make it harder for the new valve to close properly.
If you experience any issues with your aortic valve, such as regurgitation or stenosis, it is essential to contact your doctor right away. They can assess whether medication or surgery will solve the issue and provide further instructions.
What are the risks of a minimally invasive aortic valve replacement?
The aortic valve regulates blood flow between your heart and the aorta, the main artery carrying oxygen-rich blood to other parts of your body. Any problems with this valve may lead to symptoms like shortness of breath, lightheadedness and fatigue. The stenosis or leak of this valve could result in symptoms like shortness of breath, lightheadedness and fatigue; additionally it has the potential to regurgitate some of its contents back into your heart (regurgitation).
If you suffer from aortic stenosis or regurgitation, surgery may be required to treat your condition. Aortic valve replacement surgery, a minimally invasive way to replace an existing aortic valve with an artificial one, can reduce symptoms associated with this condition and enhance quality of life for those living with it.
Minimally invasive aortic valve replacement is an alternative to traditional open surgery and requires a smaller incision than open surgery. Studies have demonstrated that this procedure reduces the risk of postoperative pain, ICU stay, hospitalization, hemodialysis and renal failure [1,2,3,4,5].
Patients undergoing minimally invasive mitral valve surgery experienced 30-day mortality of 1.2%, stroke rate of 0.3% and freedom from any major complication rate of 87.2%. The most frequent adverse event was early re-exploration due to excessive bleeding, though there were no statistical differences between groups in terms of number of re-explorations.
The standard aortic valve replacement procedure utilizes a median sternotomy, or full cut through of the sternum. However, this incision may not be suitable for everyone and could lead to complications like blood transfusions, wound infections and postoperative chest pain.
By making a small incision on the right side of your chest and inserting a tool with a video camera, your surgeon can access your heart more clearly than with traditional surgery techniques. The aortic valve is then placed through this opening so that surgeons have better visibility inside than they would have with traditional techniques.
Your doctor can determine if you are a suitable candidate for minimally invasive aortic valve surgery. If so, anesthesia will be administered prior to the operation that will allow you to sleep through it and afterwards. The procedure usually lasts several hours and family or friends can watch you undergo it. Your surgeon will provide instructions regarding when it’s safe to return to work and normal activities following the operation.