Hospital San Rafael
Valve repair or replacement without extracorporeal circulation
The four heart valves open and close to give way to the blood pumped by the heart, always in the same direction.
If these valves cannot be open completely (stenosis), they do not let enough blood pass.
It can also be that a valve do not close correctly (Heart failure) and blood goes back and do not reach the organs correctly.
These problems cause an extra effort of the heart that can lead to serious diseases such as heart attack, so it is necessary to perform a surgical repair or valve replacement.
There are some different techniques to repair heart valves that are used depending on the existing defect. If the valve is too damaged, patients will need a valve replacement.
There are 2 types of replacement valves, mechanical, made of artificial materials, and biological, made from human or animal tissue. Mechanical valves require the patient to take anticoagulants although they are more resistant and durable than the biological ones, that must replaced approximately every 15 years.
Repair or valve replacement surgery can be performed with or without extracorporeal circulation. In both cases it is performed under general anesthesia and lasts about three or four hours.
Repair or valve replacement surgery without extracorporeal circulation is made through a sternotomy, while the heart is beating. Surgeons use clamping systems to fix the coronary artery. It is necessary to cut the heart or aorta, so this surgery is called "open heart procedure".
BEFORE THE PROCEDURE
Patients should undergo a preliminary test to evaluate the specific characteristics of their intervention.
Furthermore, they must undergo a standard preoperative study that includes blood tests, electrocardiogram, etc.
Also, if they have any chronic illness or regularly take medications, especially anticoagulants, they should inform the surgeon before surgery.
AFTER THE PROCEDURE:
Patients remain hospitalised for about two days in the intensive care unit and between 4 and 6 days in the hospital.
We recommend starting a cardiopulmonary rehabilitation plan to speed up recovery.
The first four weeks patients should not make sudden movements with their arms or carry weight. After the first month patients can gradually return to their normal activities and return to work.