In What Order Does Blood Flow Through The Heart Valves How to Find the Best Heart Valve Surgeon to Treat Aortic Stenosis or Aortic Insufficiency

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How to Find the Best Heart Valve Surgeon to Treat Aortic Stenosis or Aortic Insufficiency

When patients are faced with a diagnosis of severe aortic valve disease, it is very difficult to sort out the best options. It is often a very emotional and confusing time. This article will guide potential patients through the necessary steps to get good information about the best aortic valve surgery and find the right heart surgeon to suit their needs.

A few words about these aortic valve conditions:

  • Aortic stenosis means that the aortic valve is very calcified and rigid. It can’t open wide when it should. A normal aortic valve has three thin and extremely pliable leaflets (cusps) that will open and allow unimpeded flow through a roughly circular cross-section with a diameter of about one inch. A severely stenosed valve allows flow only through the hole. This explains that hissing sound that doctors call “the noise”. The heart gets tired over time and before it reaches that point, emergency surgery is needed.
  • Aortic insufficiency or regurgitation it consists somewhat of the opposite situation. The valve is stretched or “frozen” in the open position and cannot close when it should. This is what is commonly called a check valve. The heart struggles to maintain forward flow as some of the oxygenated blood leaks backward. It eventually increases and becomes progressively weaker. Again, surgery is necessary before it loses its strength.

Don’t be fooled. There is no effective medical therapy for severe symptomatic aortic valve disease. It is a mechanical problem that requires a quick mechanical solution. It requires one of two main surgical treatments:

  1. Replacement of the aortic valve with a mechanical, biological prosthetic valve or autograft
  2. Aortic valve repair, mainly in cases of aortic insufficiency
  3. Ross procedure in selected cases

Most advanced minimally invasive cardiac surgery centers can perform these procedures through a 2″ incision on the right side of the chest between the ribs. This approach involves no bone cutting and is followed by rapid recovery and wound healing with very little pain or bleeding. Most patients can return to their homes and families within two or three days, even if they are elderly and frail.This approach heals much better than a full-length or ministernotomy, cutting the sternum

Here are the questions you should ask when looking for the right treatment and surgeon:

  • Am I a candidate for minimally invasive aortic valve surgery? And if not, why not?
  • Do you perform this type of surgery?
  • How many of these operations have you performed and with what outcome?
  • What type of valve or repair do you suggest and why?
  • Can I speak to any of your previous minimally invasive valve surgery patients? An experienced minimally invasive heart surgeon will have no difficulty finding patients who are willing to share their experience with you

If you are not satisfied with the answers, call a reputable minimally invasive cardiac center that will be happy to connect you with an expert cardiac surgeon and provide all the necessary information.

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