Tests & Procedures > Valve Procedures > Aortic Valve Surgery

Aortic Valve Surgery

If you have aortic valve disease you may be a candidate for aortic valve surgery. The surgeons at PinnacleHealth are expert at minimally invasive techniques for aortic valve repair and replacement surgery.

The cardiovascular surgeons at the PinnacleHealth CardioVascular Institute are the most experienced in Central Pennsylvania in aortic valve surgery and regularly participate in the latest clinical trials. Aortic valve surgery can be performed using traditional open chest or minimally invasive approaches.

Aortic Valve Replacement Surgery vs. Aortic Valve Repair Surgery

While the aortic valve is usually replaced, the decision whether to repair or replace an aortic valve is based on many factors, including the person's general health, the condition of the damaged valve, the presence of other health conditions, and the expected benefits of surgery. In some cases, the decision may clearly be in favor of repair or in favor of replacement.

Aortic Valve Disease

Aortic valve disease occurs when the aortic valve does not work correctly. This can be caused by:
  • Aortic Valve Stenosis. A narrowing of the aortic valve that limits the blood flow
  • Aortic Valve Regurgitation. A weakness in the valve that results in the valve not closing completely. Regurgitation causes the blood that is ejected by the heart to immediately flow back into the heart once the heart stops squeezing and relaxes.

Aortic Valve Repair Surgery

While the aortic valve is usually replaced, aortic valve repair surgery may be an option. A bicuspid aortic valve may be repaired by reshaping the aortic valve leaflets allowing the valve to open and close more completely. Bicuspid aortic valve repair may be an option to treat leaking valves, but it cannot be used to treat a stenotic or narrowed bicuspid aortic valve.

Aortic Valve Replacement Surgery

If aortic valve repair surgery is not an option, your surgeon may replace the valve. The valve is replaced with a plastic or metal mechanical valve, or a bioprosthetic valve, which is usually made from pig tissue. The damaged valve is cut out, and the new valve is sewn into place.

Most otherwise healthy patients continue to lead active, normal lives after an aortic valve replacement surgery.

Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI)

A highly advanced minimally invasive procedure, the TAVI  procedure is used to treat aortic valve stenosis.  During TAVI a bioprosthetic valve is inserted using a catheter inserted into the groin or the left chest area. The cardiovascular surgeons at PinnacleHealth are among the first in the nation to adopt this new approach.

Minimally Invasive Aortic Valve Repair

Our surgeons are pioneers in new less invasive approaches for aortic valve surgery. These procedures  access the valve through much smaller incisions and without cutting the breastbone. The benefits of these minimally-invasive approaches include:
  • less pain
  • fewer complications
  • shorter hospital stays
  • shorter recovery time

Aorta Repair

Aortic valve disease can lead to an enlargement (aneurysm) of the ascending aorta, the initial portion of the aorta  The aorta is the main blood vessel in the body that originates from the aortic valve).

If the enlargement of the aorta is substantial (usually above 4.5 or 5 cm in diameter), this part of the aorta may need to be replaced. The replacement is done at the time of aortic valve repair or replacement.