Valve Repair or Replacement Surgery (Minimally Invasive)

At UW Health Heart and Vascular Care in Madison, Wisconsin, surgeons are now able to use minimally invasive valve surgery techniques for eligible patients.
The heart has four valves that control the flow of blood through the heart:
  • The mitral valve
  • The aortic valve
  • The tricuspid valve
  • The pulmonary valve

If one or more of these valves does not work properly, it may need to be surgically repaired or replaced with an artificial valve.


Most valve repair or replacement operations are performed on the aortic or mitral valve. These valves are located on the left side of the heart, which has to do more work than the right side to pump blood to the body.


Traditionally, surgery for valve repair or replacement has involved making a large vertical incision in the center of the chest and completely splitting the breastbone. However, for eligible patients, surgeons at UW Health are now able to use minimally invasive techniques for valve surgery.


These new techniques use smaller incisions and specialized instruments. Often the surgeon does not have to open the breastbone at all. If the surgeon does have to split the breastbone, only a small portion of it needs to be split.


This means that patients have less pain, a decreased chance of infection and a shorter recovery time after surgery.