Aortic valve replacement is a surgical procedure of replacing a damaged aortic valve with an artificially created graft made up of animal tissue. Aortic valve replacement surgery is used to treat patients suffering from aortic stenosis, a condition marked by a blockage in the aortic valve due to plaque formation, old age or injury sustained in an accident. Plaque is one of the greatest enemies of our heart. It refers to the various fat, oil and cholesterol particles that stick on the walls of the aortic valve and accumulate to create a blockage which hinders the normal blood flow.
The most common type of aortic replacement surgery is composite graft surgery which is used to treat a wide range of problems related to the aortic valve. Composite graft aortic root reconstruction has helped to save the life of numerous patients by providing a better and effective treatment option.
Aortic valve replacement can be carried out via two different techniques i.e. the traditional open heart technique and minimally invasive procedures like transcatheter aortic valve replacement. Both the procedures have their own risks and benefits and are recommended after thoroughly examining the patient and conducting several tests and screenings. Both the procedures are carried out under the influence of anaesthesia.
In the case of the traditional open heart method, an incision is directly made in the patient's chest to access the affected valve. In some cases, the doctors may also remove the breast bone of the patient for a better view and easier access. The affected valve is then carefully removed and replaced with the new graft. The procedure is carried out very carefully making sure that the nearby tissues are left intact. Once the procedure is complete, the wound is stitched up and covered.
Transcatheter aortic valve replacement, on the other hand, involves the use of a small narrow tube-like structure known as a catheter with a small balloon attached in one of its ends. This catheter is inserted inside the patient's body via the groin or by making very small incisions or holes on the side of the patient's chest. The catheter is then directed towards the affected valve with the help of a microscopic camera that generates live and enlarged images of the whole procedure on a huge screen. Once the catheter is in the right position, the balloon is inflated to pave for the placement of the new graft. The damaged valve may or may not be removed. Once the graft is placed, the balloon is deflated and removed along with the catheter. The wound is sealed.