Aortic Valve
The aortic valve lies between the left ventricle and the major artery in the body, the aorta. Disease of this valve may be caused by rheumatic fever, atherosclerosis, endocarditis, myxomatous changes (floppiness of valve structures), or congenital abnormalities. The valve may not open well (aortic stenosis) or may be leaky (aortic regurgitation).

The main valve replacement options are mechanical and tissue. Mechanical valves are made of titanium and metal and last for a lifetime. However, they require lifelong anticoagulation with a 1-2%/year risk of bleeding or stroke. Tissue valves are made of bovine pericardium (lining of a cows heart) or porcine aortic valve tissue. They do not require anticoagulation but only last 10-15 years and therefore a second operation is necessary when the life of the valve has worn out.

Other options for replacement include the Ross operation, which is suitable for younger patients without associated aortic aneurysms and the use of a homograft. These are selected procedures for special circumstances.

Surgeons at St. Luke's-Roosevelt perform isolated aortic valve operations through a minimally invasive approach using a 6cm incision.


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