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What is aortic valve surgery (AVS)? What are the most common procedures related to it?
Aortic valve surgery can be any procedure that involves replacing a patient’s aortic valve, any procedure that involves the aorta or occurs near the aortic valve, and any procedure that aims to repair or re-implant a patient’s aortic valve. By definition, because each of these types of procedures involves the aortic valve critical support structure, they can be classified as aortic valve surgery.
The recent cases of both Barbara Bush and Robin Williams undergoing aortic valve replacement surgery have drawn national attention to this procedure. Approximately how many people undergo AVS each year?
Approximately 70,000 patients undergo AVS every year in this country. However, according to published statistics regarding disease incidence and population estimates, there may be twice as many patients who could benefit from, but have not yet undergone, aortic valve replacement surgery.
What specific medical conditions can cause a person to undergo aortic valve surgery?
Generally speaking, the American Heart Association recommends that doctors perform AVS on patients who suffer from severe aortic stenosis or severe aortic insufficiency. However, my experience has shown that patients who experienced higher levels of health before undergoing AVS often performed better throughout the surgical process.
Who are the best candidates for aortic valve surgery (ages, conditions, etc.)?
Younger patients, most notably those under the age of 70, handle AVS very well. In the same sense, however, the procedure can also be safely performed on patients as old as 80, and even 90, who are in relatively good health. Such older patients have been able to return to a quality of life comparable to that of members of the same age group who have not undergone the procedure.
Does the procedure have a high success rate?
Yes. According to the national database of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, the risk of patients under the age of 70 experiencing fatal complications during AVS is approximately 1%. In fact, the mortality rate for AVS has consistently fallen over the past 10 years.
Are most aortic valve surgeries performed using minimally invasively surgical techniques? What about those performed at the Maryland Heart Center?
The majority of isolated aortic valve procedures are performed using a standard heart surgery incision. However, in the Maryland Heart Center, we now perform about 40% of these procedures using minimally invasively surgical techniques.
What type of recovery process follows this procedure, and how does this process vary depending upon how the procedure is performed?
Generally speaking, patients undergoing AVS require a hospital stay lasting from 4 to 5 days, and patients are usually able to walk by the time they leave the hospital. After leaving the hospital, patients are able to drive after 4 weeks, and return to deskwork after 4-6 weeks. For high activity work, such as jobs that require the lifting heavy objects, return to work is recommended after 10-12 weeks. At the Maryland Heart Center, our minimally invasive approach has significantly decreased the amount of recovery time needed for our older patients.
What impact does aortic valve surgery typically have on a patient’s quality of life?
After undergoing AVS, patients’ quality of life is expected to return to normal; it is expected to be comparable to that of other members of their respective age groups who have not undergone the procedure.
How would you describe UMMC’s aortic valve surgery program?
The aortic valve surgery program at UMMC is state-of-the-art. The program has an extremely high volume of patients because patients know they are going to receive the best possible care while undergoing this procedure at UMMC.
What are some reasons why people should consider coming to UMMC for aortic valve surgery?
There are four very important reasons patients should consider choosing UMMC as their AVS hospital:
For more information or to make an appointment, please call the Maryland Heart Center at 410-328-5842.