Valve replacement is a treatment for patients with dysfunctional valves. The most common indications for a valve replacement are regurgitation (leaky valve) and stenosis (narrowed valve opening). Aortic and mitral valve replacements are more common in adults compared to tricuspid and pulmonary valve replacements.
Surgical Valve Replacement: Currently, it is most common to surgically replace a defective valve with either a mechanical (requiring anti-coagulation therapy) or tissue valve. This procedure requires an open-heart operation to access the valve.
Transcatheter Valve Replacement: More recently, there is growing availability of replacement valves that can be delivered via a catheter (transcatheter delivered valves) without the need for open-heart surgery. Many of the patients receiving this therapy are not candidates for open-heart procedures. Such technologies have been used clinically to treat pulmonic and aortic valvular disease.
Valve Repair: In some patients with defective valvular function, it is desirable to repair the valve rather than perform a more aggressive replacement procedure. Valvuloplasty can be employed on a stenotic valve (narrowed valve opening) in an attempt to break adhesions or other structural causes, to allow for a larger valve opening and improved blood flow. Annuloplasty can be performed on leaky valves to pull the leaflets together to reduce undesired backflow. See the Structure Repair Tab for videos and more details on these types of repair.