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Aortic Valve Replacement Surgery

The surgeon makes an incision in the chest

Picture of the chest incision for aortic valve replacement surgery
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Aortic valve replacement surgery may be done as an open-heart surgery or as a less invasive surgery (where the surgeon makes smaller incisions and does not open the chest). This slideshow shows the surgery as an open-heart surgery.

To replace the damaged aortic valve, the surgeon first makes an incision in the chest and cuts through the breastbone (sternum).

The chest is opened to expose the heart

Picture of the heart exposed for aortic valve replacement
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Then, the surgeon opens the chest with a retractor to expose the heart. The surgeon opens the lining that protects the heart (pericardium).

The damaged aortic valve is removed

Picture of removing the damaged valve for aortic valve replacement
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Next, the surgeon removes the damaged aortic valve.

The artificial valve is sewn in place

Picture of the artificial valve sewn in place for aortic valve replacement
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Finally, the surgeon inserts the artificial valve into the aorta. The artificial valve (also called a prosthetic valve) may be either mechanical or made of human or animal (pig) tissue. The surgeon sews the valve to the annulus, which is a ring of tissue that connects to the leaflets of the aortic valve.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Specialist Medical Reviewer John A. McPherson, MD, FACC, FSCAI - Cardiology
Last Revised November 2, 2011

Last Revised: November 2, 2011

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology & John A. McPherson, MD, FACC, FSCAI - Cardiology

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