Cause / Condition
The heart has four valves inside it. These valves function as one-way doors to keep blood moving in one direction through the heart. If problems with one or more valves develop, the heart works harder to get blood out to the body. Examples include insufficiency (regurgitation) and stenosis (incomplete valve opening). During heart valve surgery one or more valves are repaired or replaced.
About the Procedure
A mini-sternotomy approach is used for replacing an aortic valve. A mitral valve replacement is performed through a small inframammary incision through a small right anterior thoracotomy. Also known as "keyhole" cardiac surgery, the small incision does not accommodate full access to the heart.
If the valve(s) can be mended the surgeon performs the needed repairs. If replacement is indicated, part of all of the damaged valve(s) and its supportive structures may be removed.
During repair, a ring may be sewn around the valve's opening to tighten it while other parts of the valve may be shortened, separated, made stronger or cut depending on what is needed to improve the function.
During replacement a prosthetic valve (mechanical or biological) is used.
The hospital stay after minimally invasive heart surgery varies with each patient but is generally less than one week. Recovery guidelines include breathing exercises, pain medication and management, range of motion exercises and when to resume normal activities.
Expectations / Experience
Not every cardiac patient is a candidate for minimally invasive valve replacement because of the limited "surgical exposure" to the heart. The incisions are much smaller than for traditional valve surgery and therefore heal faster.
Successful, progressive patient results have been reported by the MIMIS cardiothoracic specialist.
For more information contact:
The Milwaukee Institute of Minimally Invasive Surgery
Columbia St. Mary's Hospital Milwaukee
2301 N. Lake Dr.
Milwaukee, WI 53211