When you have severe mitral valve prolapse, mitral valve stenosis, or other mitral valve disease, a mitral valve repair or replacement is the surgical treatment. The surgeon can either repair your mitral valve or replace it with a prosthetic valve.
Prosthetic valves can be either mechanical or biological. Mechanical valves are made of metal, last longer, and require anticoagulation. Biological valves are made of human or animal tissue, require less anticoagulation, and have a shorter life span.
Your surgeon will give specific instructions before the mitral valve repair or replacement surgery, including risks such as bleeding, infection, or adverse reaction to anesthesia. Please be sure to contact your insurance company for coverage.
You will also meet with the anesthesiologist prior to the surgery to go over your medical history. Please do not eat after midnight the night before your surgery.
On the day of surgery, you will arrive at the hospital, register, and change into a hospital gown. A nurse will review your chart to make sure there are no problems.
The anesthesiologist will then start an IV, and you will be taken to the operating room, where the surgeon will verify your name and procedure before any medication is given. Surgery will begin once you are under anesthesia.
The surgeon will begin by making an incision in the midline of the chest and spreading the chest cavity to get to the heart. You will then be placed on cardiopulmonary bypass, which allows blood to be pumped to the body, bypassing the heart except for the coronary arteries and enabling your heart to be stopped temporarily.
An incision is made in the left atrium of the heart to access the mitral valve, and it is then either repaired or replaced.
If the valve is replaced, your mitral valve leaflets are taken out before the prosthetic valve is placed. The heart is then closed and restarted, allowing blood to flow back through the heart.
Pacing wires are placed on the heart in case there are any irregular heart rhythms during the recovery period in the hospital, and the chest is closed with wires and stitches.
After the surgery, you will be taken to the intensive care unit and monitored. Pain is likely, so you’ll be given pain medication appropriately. You may also be on a respirator for up to day after the surgery. It’s important to keep the incision areas clean and dry.
The length of your hospital stay depends on how quickly you are able to recover and perform some physical activity. Please let your doctor know immediately if you experience fevers, severe pain, redness, swelling, warmth where the incisions were made, or drainage from the incisions. Your surgeon will give specific instructions about recovery time.
To schedule an appointment with a mitral valve repair or replacement expert at UT Southwestern's facilities in Dallas or for more information about our services, request an appointment or call 214-645-8300.