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Sometimes the damaged or malfunctioning valve can be repaired surgically. Through a variety of techniques, surgeons can perform the delicate task of restoring the heart valve to perform more effectively.
Alternatively, valves that are too severely damaged might require replacement. The damaged valve can be replaced with a manufactured mechanical valve, a donor valve or a tissue valve most commonly called a bioprosthetic valve. Though the risks and benefits of each type of valve need to be weighed, for many a mechanical valve will last the remainder of their lives. It is common for patients of valve surgery to require extended use of blood thinning medication to reduce the risk of clots and emboli.
Historically, valve replacement surgery has required the use of a sternotomy or the opening of your sternum to gain access to your heart. Currently, many patients are able to receive live saving valve replacement surgery through a minimally invasive procedure called Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement or TAVR. This procedure uses only very small incisions as the valve is placed into the heart through a catheter system as opposed to direct visualization. The video below shows an artist rendering of the TAVR procedure being performed.
This information is provided by the Department of Surgery at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. It is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for advice about a specific medical condition.