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Valvular Services

Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center is uniquely qualified to treat your valve disease. Lourdes has been ranked among the top hospitals in the nation for the cardiac and stroke care and overall clinical excellence by HealthGrades, a leading provider of comprehensive information about hospitals and physicians. Our highly experienced team of cardiologists, surgeons, anesthesiologists and specialized nurses work together to provide the best care and outcomes possible.

What is Aortic Valve Disease?

The aortic valve is one of four valves that control the flow of blood through the heart. There are two types of aortic valve disease:

  • Stenosis: The opening of the valve becomes narrow, preventing the valve from opening normally and allowing blood to flow from the heart into the aorta. Stenosis can be caused by a birth defect, a buildup of calcium due to age or heart tissue scarring from rheumatic fever.
  • Regurgitation/insufficiency: The valve does not close properly, allowing blood to flow backward and forward in the heart. This can be caused by a birth defect, weakening of the valve with age, chronic high blood pressure, a heart infection, rheumatic fever or conditions such as Marfan syndrome.

These conditions cause the heart to work harder to pump enough blood through the body. Left untreated, valve disease can lead to heart failure and a reduced quality of life.

What Treatments are Available?

Medications can be prescribed to reduce the severity of valve insufficiency. Stenosis of the valve has no effective medical therapy. For both conditions, the most definitive treatment involves surgical replacement of the diseased valve. Timely surgery can help delay irreversible congestive heart failure.

Our Lady of Lourdes is among a select group of hospitals nationwide to perform both traditional open aortic valve replacement (AVR) and minimally invasive valve surgery. Minimally invasive procedures generally result in a shorter length of stay in the hospital and shorter overall recovery.

Procedures offered include:

  • Open AVR (sternotomy): The surgeon makes a 6- to 8-inch incision down the center of your chest and then cracks your sternum (breastbone) to gain direct access to your heart.
  • Minimally invasive AVR: A small incision is made between the ribs on the right side of your chest. Specially designed instruments allow the surgeon to insert a new valve, which can be mechanical or made of organic material.
  • Balloon valvuloplasty: The surgeon makes a small incision in the groin area and uses echocardiography and X-ray images to guide a catheter with a special balloon through your blood vessels to your heart. The balloon is positioned in the valve opening and inflated repeatedly, reducing the obstruction to blood flow. Once the valve is widened, the balloon is deflated and removed.

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