Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery

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Heart Valve Treatment

Minimally Invasive Valve Repair

valvesHeart valve disease occurs when a valve doesn't work right. A valve may not open all the way. Or, a valve may have problems closing. If this happens, blood doesn't move through the heart's chambers the way it should.

During heart valve surgery, one or more valves are repaired or replaced. Repair means that the valve is mended to help it work better. Replacement means your diseased valve is removed and a new valve is inserted in its place. Whether a valve will be repaired or replaced can only be decided by reviewing the echocardiogram and once surgery has begun. Your surgeon will talk with you about his or her plans for surgery and any other procedures you may need.

Certain types of heart valve repair can now be done repaired using minimally invasive surgery. The surgeon can modify the original valve (valvuloplasty) to eliminate backward blood flow. Surgeons can also repair the valve by reconnecting valve leaflets or by removing excess valve tissue so that the leaflets can close tightly. Sometimes repairing the valve includes tightening or replacing the ring around the valve (annuloplasty):

  • Aortic Valve Surgery
  • Mitral Valve Surgery
  • Tricuspid Valve Surgery

There are several different ways to do minimally invasive valve surgery. Techniques include laparoscopy or endoscopy, robot-assisted surgery, and percutaneous surgery.

UTMB Cardiothoracic Surgeon routinely perform valve repair surgeries and have extensive experience in conducting robotically-assisted valve surgery, which requires significantly smaller incisions to reach the valve—the surgeon makes two to four tiny cuts (about 1/2 to 3/4 inches) in your chest and will use a special computer to control robotic arms during the surgery. The surgeon sees an undistroted, three-dimensional view of the heart and its valves on the computer. This method is very precise.

Compared with traditional surgery, the benefits of robotically assisted surgery include:

  • mis valveSmaller incisions with minimal scarring
  • Less trauma to the patient, including less pain
  • Shorter hospital stay (usually 3 to 4 days)
  • Decreased use of pain medications
  • Less bleeding
  • Decreased risk of infection
  • Shorter recovery and quicker return to daily and professional activities: The patient can resume normal activities and work as soon as he or she feels up to it; there are no specific activity restrictions after robotically-assisted surgery