Heart valve surgery

During traditional heart valve surgery, a surgeon will make an incision down the centre of your sternum (breastbone) to get direct access to your heart. The surgeon then repairs or replaces your abnormal heart valve or valves.

Minimally invasive heart valve surgery

Minimally invasive surgery is a type of surgery performed through smaller incisions. This type of surgery reduces blood loss, trauma, and length of hospital stay. Heart valve surgery is the most common minimally invasive procedure. Your surgeon will review your diagnostic tests prior to your surgery to see if your are a candidate for minimally
invasive valve surgery.

Chest wall incisions used for heart surgery

Median sternotomy incision

Minimally invasive approach: partial upper sternotomy

Minimally invasive approach: small right thoracotomy incision

Often, the surgeon and cardiologist will use transesophageal echocardiography during the operation to help determine the functioning of the valve before and after surgery.

There are two types of valve surgery: valve repair surgery and valve replacement surgery

What factors help you determine the best option for aortic valve surgery?

There are several options for young and older adult patients with aortic valve disease. The type of surgery used is
individualized to each patient and based on several factors:

  • Age of the patient
  • Expected long-term survival
  • Co-existing cardiac and/or valve disease
  • Co-existing other cardiac disease
  • Co-existing non-cardiac disease
  • Patient lifestyle
  • Surgery risks
  • Risk of thromboembolism (blood clots)
  • Risk of endocarditis
  • Valve durability
  • Risk of bleeding complications with anticoagulation
  • Patient's wishes