Your heart contains four major valves. One or more of these valves may become diseased or damaged whereby it either leaks (Regurgitation), causing blood to flow in the wrong direction, or becomes narrow (Stenosis), making it difficult for blood to flow through it. In some cases, the valve may be repaired. In other cases, it must be replaced.
These disorders can be caused by congenital malformations at birth or as a result of diseases including infection, degeneration and calcification, aortic aneurysms, tumors, and radiation.
Valve disorders that cause the valve to leak are known as aortic regurgitation or insufficiency. Aortic regurgitation or insufficiency is a condition where the aortic valve permits blood ejected from the left ventricle to leak back into the left ventricle. Aortic regurgitation is often caused by damage to the aortic valve from an infection.
Depending on the severity of the leakage, this condition can lead to progressive lung congestion and congestive heart failure. Symptoms can include shortness of breath and swelling of the feet and hands.
Aortic insufficiency can sometimes be reduced with medications but the most effective treatment involves surgical replacement of the valve. Timely surgery is advised since significant delay can lead to irreversible congestive heart failure.
The mitral valve controls blood flow through the left side of the heart. When it opens, the mitral valve allows blood to flow into the left ventricle - the heart's main pumping chamber. When the left ventricle contracts, the mitral valve closes in order to prevent blood from flowing back toward the lungs.
Sometimes the mitral valve is abnormal from birth. It can also become damaged by infection, with age or from heart disease.
The mitral valve can be repaired by reconstructing the native valve tissues to restore normal valvular structure and function. In fact, the mitral valve is the most commonly repaired heart valve. In cases when repair of the mitral valve cannot be performed successfully, valve replacement is an option.
Minimally invasive approaches may be recommended for patients who require aortic valve or tricuspid valve surgery, alone or in combination with mitral valve surgery. Advantages of minimally invasive approaches include faster recovery, less pain, reduced need for blood transfusion and better cosmetic result. We evaluate each patient for robotic and minimally invasive surgery and work with the patient to choose the best and safest approach in each case.
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