The valves of the heart help blood flow in the right direction. There are four valves, the aortic valve, mitral valve, pulmonary valve and tricuspid valve. Occasionally, valves wear out and need to be repaired or replaced.

Two commonly replaced valves are the mitral valve and the aortic valves. Due to advances in technology, these valves can be repaired through traditional open surgery or through minimally invasive surgery.

Aortic Valve Surgery

Patients may require aortic valve surgery if they have narrowing of the aortic valve, known as aortic stenosis or if blood flows backward through the aortic valve.

Aortic valves are sometimes repaired through open-heart surgery. Open-heart surgery is a major surgery, which requires monitoring in an intensive care unit (ICU) for a few days prior to moving to a recovery floor.

A minimally invasive approach to valve repair is Transcatheter Aortic Valve Repair (TAVR). In one approach to TAVR, the surgeon inserts a catheter into the femoral artery through an incision in the leg. The surgeon then guides a very thin wire to the aortic valve. The replacement valve is sent to the affected area via the wire and is then put in place. Your doctor may also insert the catheter through different approaches.

TAVR may be an option for patients requiring valve surgery who aren’t candidates for open-heart surgery.

Mitral Valve Surgery

Hardening of the mitral valve or loosening of the mitral valve may eventually require surgery. Like aortic valve repair, mitral valve repair and replacement can be performed through open-heart surgery or through minimally invasive techniques.

Like aortic valve repair, mitral valve repair may require open-heart surgery. An incision is made in the chest, through which the surgeon performs the valve replacement. Patients will be monitored in the intensive care unit (ICU) for a few days prior to moving to a recovery floor.

Some patients may be candidates for a minimally invasive valve replacement, known as Transcatheter Aortic Valve Repair (TMVR). In TMVR, a catheter is inserted through a major artery. The replacement valve is fed through the blood vessel via the catheter.

You and your doctor will work together to determine the best treatment option for you.