Best Heart Valve Replacement Surgery Hospitals In India

Heart valve replacement surgery involves replacing damaged or diseased heart valves (that obstruct blood flow in and out of the heart) with an artificial valve, that mimics function of the original valve. The artificial valve is attached by sewing it to the natural valve.

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When is heart valve replacement required?

Heart valves may narrow down due to collection of calcium, or in diseases like rheumatic fever. This is known as stenosis. Increasing age or diseases like endocarditis may cause leakage or backflow of blood through valves. This is known as regurgitation. If not treated with repair or replacement, stenosis and regurgitation together can lead to life-threatening heart failure. Aortic stenosis and mitral regurgitation are the two most common kinds of valvular diseases that require replacement or repair of heart valves.

Which are the types of heart valve replacement surgery?

Heart valve replacement surgery can be of the following types –

Open-heart valve replacement surgery

In this surgery, the patient’s heart is opened up in the operation theatre and the internal structures are operated upon.

Minimally Invasive Heart Surgery

In some cases, heart valves can be replaced without opening the chest using ‘minimally invasive heart surgery’, also known as ‘keyhole surgery’. In this procedure, specialized surgical instruments are used to make small incisions of about 3 to 4 inches in the heart muscle. This type of surgery is mainly carried out for repair of mitral, aortic and tricuspid valves.

Valvuloplasty

This technique is used to expand stiffened aortic valves that obstruct blood flow. Using a balloon catheter, the balloon is positioned in the aortic valve and subsequently inflated to expand the size of the valve, leading to improved blood flow.

Which are the types of valves used in valve replacement surgery?

The following types of valves are used in valve replacement –

Mechanical valves

Artificial substitutes of heart valves are called mechanical or prosthetic valves. These valves have a ring to support the leaflets and are designed to mimic the functions of natural healthy heart valves. As they may lead to formation of blood clots, they require life-long treatment with medications to prevent blood clotting.

Tissue Valves

‘Tissue valves’ are biological valves of animals like pigs. These valves are treated with chemicals (to make them suitable for the human heart) and then placed in the human body.

Homografts or allografts

Valves that are obtained from a human donor are known as homografts or allografts. These are used for valve replacement in pregnant women or children as they do not require long term treatment with medications to prevent blood clotting.

How is a heart valve replacement surgery carried out?

As seen above, a number of procedures can be used for heart valve replacement. Your doctor will help decide the best procedure for your condition. In most procedures, your heart will be temporarily put on a heart/lung machine that helps your breathing and blood circulation, while the surgeon replaces the heart valve. Depending on the type of surgery, an incision is made into the breastbone, the covering of the heart (pericardium) is opened and the heart valve is replaced. After the procedure, a transesophageal echocardiogram is done to confirm whether the new valve is functioning properly or not. Over time, the new heart valve begins to help your heart function more effectively, preventing symptoms such as breathing difficulties, chest pain, edema and heart palpitations.

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