If you are having surgery, the surgeon may use either a minimally invasive procedure or an invasive procedure depending on what is wrong with the valve.
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Minimally Invasive Procedures
Minimally invasive procedures involve smaller incisions and less pain with a quicker recovery than the more traditional open-heart surgery.
In open-heart surgery the chest wall is opened up and the patient is put on a heart-lung machine (cardiopulmonary bypass) during the procedure.
- Minimally invasive procedures are done by inserting a catheter (a thin tube) into the femoral artery in the groin (a similar procedure as an angioplasty).
- Then the surgeon can either:
- Invasive procedures are done by making incisions in the chest wall. A surgeon may replace a valve that is not working properly by:
- performing open-heart surgery (the most invasive) or
- by making small incisions and use a camera and robotics (less invasive surgery)
- The valve is replaced with either a biological valve (made of human or animal tissue) or a mechanical valve (made of metal or plastic parts that are well tolerated by the body).
- Surgeons may also repair a valve by:
- removing calcium buildup
- reshaping the valve
- enlarging the valve opening
- shortening the cords that support the valve