Heart has 4 chambers through which blood flows to the whole body. By coordinated series of contractions of the heart muscle, heart pumps blood through its four chambers and on the rest of the body. While the heart muscle is relaxing, it receives blood from venous system. In order to achieve this, pumped blood from each chamber during contraction should not return during relaxation and enough volume of blood should enter each chamber during relaxation. Each heart valve plays a role in providing healthy blood circulation.
Heart valves are leaf-like structures composed of biological connective tissue membranes. There are four valves in the heart. Two of them are located at the beginning of major arteries leaving the heart; aorta and pulmonary artery which deliver blood to the body and the lungs respectively. The other two valves are located between the upper and lower chambers, the atria and the ventricles. Normally, the mitral valve; the one between left atrium and left ventricle has two leaflets and the other three has three leaflets.
What If An Open Heart Surgery Is Too Risky For Me?
In some cases, valve replacement procedure may only require a series of small incisions. Patients with an intermediate or high risk and severe aortic valve tightness can be good candidates for a minimally invasive valve replacement. Minimally Invasive Valve Replacement can be performed on certain people who can't undergo open-heart surgery. This approach is increasingly being used with the aim of reducing the “invasiveness” of the surgical procedure, while maintaining the same efficacy, quality and safety of a conventional approach.
How is it performed?
- Minimally Invasive Valve Replacement method can be performed by approaching the heart via an incision in the axilla (armpit) (approximately 5-6 cm wide) by creating access between the ribs while avoiding any incisions to the muscles, ribs or the sternum. Minimally Invasive Valve Replacement Surgery is a very unique surgery technique which is very effective and cost-conscious. Patients who undergo the surgery will experience less pain, lower risk of infection, and shorter hospitalization time for the recovery with the sub axillary incision and with endoscopic surgical techniques.
- Unlike conventional surgery, which has 10-12 incisions and places the patient on the heart-lung machine, new minimally invasive approaches avoids placing the patient on the machine, and can be performed through 3-5 incisions placed between the ribs, or may be done with several small incisions. Since the incision is small in this surgery, there will be less bleeding, decreasing the need for blood transfusion.
What Happens After My Minimally Invasive Valve Replacement?
- Patients may experience less pain and may have better ability to cough, can breathe deeply and move after the operation so they are often discharged from the hospital in 2 to 3 days, compared to the typical 5 to 10 days for conventional surgery.
- Patients can easily look after their daily needs by themselves as they will be able to use their arms and feel less pain. They can also travel with a plane, drive shortly after the surgery and wear seatbelts without the fear of getting any impact on their chests.
- After these surgeries which are performed from under the armpit, even the patients themselves may not see post-operative scars. The scars become invisible in a period of just one month. Since the incisions are minimal and there are no bone cuts, infection risks are also minimized.