Heart surgery is done to fix valves that don't function properly and are placing too much strain on the heart. To fix these problems, surgeons may either repair or replace the diseased valve.
The type of heart valve surgery may include:
Valve repair: Heart valve repair surgery may include cutting scarred flaps so they open more easily; remodeling valve tissue that has enlarged; or inserting prosthetic rings to help narrow an enlarged valve. For certain valve conditions, heart valve repair is preferable. The most commonly repaired valve is the mitral valve.
Heart valve replacement: When heart valves are severely malformed, they may need to be replaced. Replacement valves are either: tissue (biologic) valves, which include animal valves (cow or pig) and donated human (cadaveric) valves, or mechanical valves, usually made of a metal alloy.
Balloon Valvuloplasty: A less invasive surgical procedure in which a catheter is threaded into a blood vessel in the groin and guided into the heart. The catheter, which contains a deflated balloon, is inserted into the narrowed heart valve and inflated, stretching the valve open. This procedure is reserved for high risk patients that may not be candidates for more traditional surgical options.