Aortic Valve Stenosis
UW Health heart surgeons treat aortic valve stenosis, a narrowing of the aortic valve, which directs blood from left ventricle of the heart to the aorta.
About the Aortic Valve
The aortic valve directs blood from the left ventricle into the aorta (the large vessel that carries blood to the rest of the body). In aortic valve stenosis, the aortic valve is narrowed (stenotic), and therefore less blood flows from the left ventricle to the aorta and out to the body.
Aortic Stenosis Concerns and Symptoms
In patients with aortic stenosis, the left ventricle has to work harder to pump blood through the narrow aortic valve. This may cause the heart muscle to enlarge and become less able to pump blood to the body effectively.
Symptoms may include:
- Shortness of breath
- Heavy or rapid breathing
- Chest pain upon exertion
- Some patients may also have an abnormal heartbeat (arrhythmia)
Treating Aortic Valve Stenosis
In some cases, aortic stenosis can be treated by inserting a balloon through the narrow area and inflating it, thereby opening up the stenosis. This type of procedure is performed by interventional cardiologists.
In other cases, surgical repair or replacement of the valve is necessary. The operation is performed under general anesthesia, which means you will be asleep during surgery.
First, the surgeon makes a vertical incision in the front of the chest, opens the breastbone, and exposes the heart. Blood from the heart is redirected to a bypass machine. The bypass machine does the job of the heart and lungs during the operation.
The specific type of operation performed depends on the type and severity of aortic stenosis. Operations include:
- Valve Repair: The aortic valve is reconstructed to allow blood to pass through more easily. If the stenosis is caused by tissue or muscles underneath the aorta, these may be removed as well.
- Ross Procedure: The aortic valve is replaced with the your own pulmonary valve. A pulmonary valve from a tissue donor is then placed where the existing pulmonary valve had been.
- Valve Replacement: The aortic valve is replaced with either a mechanical valve, a valve from an animal donor, or a valve from a human donor.
After the valve is repaired or replaced, and the heart closed, the surgeon shuts down the heart-lung bypass machine, and the heart starts beating again. The surgeon then closes the breastbone and chest incision, and applies bandages to the incision site.
- Aortic Valve-Sparing Surgery
- Mitral Valve Repair
- Valve Repair or Replacement Surgery (Minimally Invasive)