Aortic Valve Surgery: Procedure and Recovery

What is Aortic Valve Surgery?

The aortic valve is a structure that separates the ventricle, in the heart, from the aorta, which is where all the blood leaves the heart and makes the blood flow unidirectional and cannot go backwards. So when the aortic valve becomes diseased, there is no choice but to operate on that person and either change the valve and put in a new valve or repair it. This is done by stopping the heart, opening the aorta, cutting out the diseased valve and sewing or implanting a new valve in its place.

When do you need aortic valve surgery?

There are two main groups of aortic valve diseases: on the one hand, that the valve thickens, calcifies and the area is greatly reduced, this is called aortic stenosis, and on the other hand, that the valve does not close properly and blood leaks backwards, this is called aortic insufficiency. Then there are international guidelines based on measurements, for example, on an ultrasound, or on the patient’s symptoms, or on whether this affects the heart in any way, which determine when each patient should be operated on.

Risks of aortic valve surgery

Many people may think that these are very complex operations with a tremendous risk, but in reality it is a routine operation that is performed in many hospitals around the world with a fairly controlled risk. These are patients who, if they do not undergo surgery, we know that they will end up badly, and if they undergo surgery and everything goes well, which is the usual case, they manage to recover their normal life, they can exercise and the main thing is that they lengthen their life expectancy.

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Postoperative period after aortic valve surgery

Once the patient has undergone surgery, he goes from the operating room to intensive care. The patient will be asleep, intubated for a few hours, then the tracheal tube will be removed in the ICU and he/she will remain there for 2 or 3 days at the most. Then they go to a normal, conventional hospital ward and begin to go to the toilet, to get up, to walk and are usually admitted for an average of one week. Then they will start anticoagulation treatment or not, depending on whether a mechanical aortic valve is implanted or if they have undergone valve repair or a biological valve. Then at home they will start progressive exercise and between 1 and 2 months they will recover completely.