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Valve Replacement and Repair

There are four valves in your heart:

  • Aortic valve
  • Mitral valve
  • Tricuspid valve
  • Pulmonary valve

The valves control the direction of blood flow through your heart. The opening and closing of the heart valves produce the sound of the heartbeat. Heart valve surgery is open-heart surgery that is done while a patient is under general anesthesia. A cut is made through the breast bone (sternum). Blood is routed away from the heart to a heart-lung bypass machine. This machine keeps the blood circulating while the heart is being operated on.

Valves may be repaired or replaced. Replacement heart valves are either natural (biologic) or artificial (mechanical). Natural valves are from human donors (cadavers).

Modified natural valves come from animal donors. (Porcine valves are from pigs, bovine are from cows.) These are placed in synthetic rings. Artificial valves are made of metal.