Think you might be facing heart valve surgery – or know someone who is? Learn what to expect in this overview from McLeod Cardiothoracic Surgeon Michael Carmichael, MD:
Here’s a summary of Dr. Carmichael’s comments:
The most common heart valves that require surgery are the mitral and the aortic valves.
Aortic valves are usually replaced, rather than repaired. It is about an hour and a half for this operation, if it is an aortic valve replacement procedure alone. This would not include any additional procedures such as coronary artery bypass grafting surgery.
Recovery time for an aortic valve includes four to five days in the hospital. Because the breastbone needs time to heal, I recommend four to six weeks before any strenuous activity.
Many patients will return to work at 3½ to 4 weeks (without heavy lifting). After six weeks they can usually resume full activity.
The mitral valve – if you are replacing the valve, the surgery can be performed in about an hour and a half to two hours. If you are repairing the valve, it can take a little bit longer.
Mitral valve repair involves restructuring and repairing of a malformed valve, possibly putting in new cords.
This surgery is about an hour, sometimes a little longer to repair the valve, with the idea that if the repair is successful that patient has their native valve in place. As far as the valve structure itself, you wouldn’t require blood thinners. This repaired valve should last indefinitely.
So an hour and a half for an aortic valve; an hour and a half to two and a half hours for mitral valve; recoveries about the same — four to six weeks.