Aortic valve replacement surgery

In open-heart surgery, the surgeon makes an incision in the middle of the chest

Chest incision site for aortic valve replacement surgery
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slide 1 of 5, In open-heart surgery, the surgeon makes an incision in the middle of the chest,

Aortic valve replacement surgery may be done as an open-heart surgery or as a less invasive surgery. In open-heart surgery, the surgeon makes an incision in the middle of the chest and cuts through the breastbone (sternum). In less invasive surgery, the surgeon makes smaller incisions and does not open the chest.

In less invasive surgery, the surgeon may make an incision between the ribs

Chest incision site between ribs for less invasive surgery
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slide 2 of 5, In less invasive surgery, the surgeon may make an incision between the ribs,

In a less invasive surgery, the surgeon may make an incision between the ribs. The surgeon uses this incision to work on the heart. The surgeon does not cut the sternum.

The chest is opened to expose the heart

Heart exposed for aortic valve replacement
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slide 3 of 5, The chest is opened to expose the heart,

In an open-heart surgery, the surgeon opens the chest with a retractor to expose the heart. The surgeon opens the lining that protects the heart (pericardium).

The damaged aortic valve is removed

Location of aortic vale in the heart and detail of damaged valve
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slide 4 of 5, The damaged aortic valve is removed,

Next, the surgeon removes the damaged aortic valve.

The artificial valve is sewn in place

Mechanical and tissue aortic valves and detail of artificial valve sewn in place
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slide 5 of 5, The artificial valve is sewn in place,

Finally, the surgeon inserts the artificial valve into the aorta. The artificial valve (also called a prosthetic valve) may be either mechanical or made of human or animal (pig) tissue. The surgeon sews the valve to the annulus, which is a ring of tissue that connects to the leaflets of the aortic valve.

Current as ofJuly 22, 2018

Author: Healthwise Staff
Rakesh K. Pai MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
David C. Stuesse MD - Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine

Is it an emergency?

If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be a life-threatening emergency. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately.
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