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Alternative NamesMitral valve replacement - open; Mitral valve repair - open; Mitral valvuloplasty
Definition Return to top
Blood that flows between different chambers of your heart must flow through a valve. This valve is called the mitral valve. It opens up enough so blood can flow from one chamber of your heart (left atria) to the next chamber (left ventricle). It then closes, keeping blood from flowing backwards.
Mitral valve surgery is surgery to either repair or replace the mitral valve in your heart.
In open surgery, the surgeon makes a large incision (cut) in your breastbone to reach the heart.
See also: Mitral valve surgery - minimally invasive
Description Return to top
Before your surgery, you will receive general anesthesia. This will make you unconscious and unable to feel pain during the entire procedure.
If your surgeon can repair your aortic valve, you may have:
If your mitral valve is too damaged, you will need a new valve. This is called replacement surgery. Your surgeon will remove your mitral valve and sew a new one into place. There are two main types of new valves:
Once the new or repaired valve is working, your surgeon will
You may have a temporary pacemaker connected to your heart until your natural heart rhythm returns.
This surgery may take 3 to 6 hours.
Why the Procedure is Performed Return to top
You may need surgery if your mitral valve does not work properly.
You may need open-heart valve surgery for these reasons:
Risks Return to top
Risks for any surgery are:
Possible risks from having open-heart surgery are:
Before the Procedure Return to top
Always tell your doctor or nurse:
You may be able to store blood in the blood bank for transfusions during and after your surgery. Ask your surgeon about how you and your family members can donate blood.
For the 2-week period before surgery, you may be asked to stop taking drugs that make it harder for your blood to clot. These might cause increased bleeding during the surgery.
Prepare your house for when you get home from the hospital.
The day before your surgery. Shower and shampoo well. You may be asked to wash your whole body below your neck with a special soap. Scrub your chest 2 or 3 times with this soap. You also may be asked to take an antibiotic, to guard against infection.
During the days before your surgery:
On the day of the surgery:
After the Procedure Return to top
Expect to spend 4 to 7 days in the hospital after surgery. You will wake up in the intensive care unit (ICU) and recover there for 1 or 2 days. Two to 3 tubes will be in your chest to drain fluid from around your heart. They are usually removed 1 to 3 days after surgery.
You may have a catheter (flexible tube) in your bladder to drain urine. You may also have intravenous (IV, in the vein) lines to get fluids. Nurses will closely watch monitors that show information about your vital signs (pulse, temperature, and breathing).
You will be moved to a regular hospital room from the ICU. Your nurses and doctors will continue to monitor your heart and vital signs until you are stable enough to go home. You will receive pain medicine to control pain around your incision.
Your nurse will help you slowly resume some activity. You may begin a program to make your heart and body stronger.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
Mechanical heart valves do not fail often. However, blood clots develop on them. If a blood clot forms, you may have a stroke. Bleeding can occur, but this is rare.
Biological valves tend to fail over time. But they have a lower risk of blood clots.
References Return to top
Fullerton DA, Harken AH. Acquired heart disease: valvular. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 18th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2008:chap 62.
Otto CM, Bonow RO. Valvular heart disease. In: Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 62.Update Date: 3/13/2009 Updated by: Larry A. Weinrauch MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Cardiovascular Disease and Clinical Outcomes Research, Watertown, MA.. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.