Cardiovascular Surgery
Lifespan Cardiovascular Institute

Valve Surgery

When the valves that control blood flow through the heart become diseased, your quality of life is affected. You might experience fatigue, dizziness, chest pain, shortness of breath, or fainting.

Replacement or repair of heart valves can restore them to efficient function and you to better health.

How Do Heart Valves Work?

The aortic valve controls blood flow between the heart and the aorta, the main artery of the body. The pulmonary valve manages blood flow between the heart and lungs. The mitral and tricuspid valves control blood within the upper and lower chambers of the heart.

Over time, heart valves may become stiff, or weak and leaky. In other cases, a defect can be present at birth.

Surgical Repair or Replacement of Heart Valves

Although valve replacement has been the traditional way to correct valve disorders, repair has emerged during the past decade as the preferred procedure, particularly for the mitral valve. A wide range of valve repair techniques is available to patients, according to their individual needs.

We always endeavor to preserve the patient’s own valve. However, an artificial mechanical or tissue replacement may be required. 

Currently, about 80 percent of all mitral valves and 95 percent of tricuspid valves can be repaired. For a faulty aortic valve, replacement still is the primary technique. Increasingly, our surgeons are implanting newer tissue valves, resulting in increased durability and fewer patients needing to take blood-thinning medicines for the rest of their lives.

Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement

For patients in need of valve replacement, yet who are considered too high-risk for open heart surgery, we are one of the few hospitals in the region to offer transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR). This innovative non-surgical procedure was developed for patients with severe aortic stenosis, or diseased heart valves. The procedure replaces a narrowed or diseased aortic heart valve through a catheter inserted in the thigh. A new valve is fed through the catheter to the heart, in effect, replacing the valve from the inside. The procedure is performed in an operating room by an interventional cardiologist with support from our multidisciplinary cardiothoracic surgery staff.