What is Heart Valve Surgery?
There are four heart valves that open and close to regulate blood flow through the heart. Heart valve surgery treats diseases and defects of these valves of the heart.
There are two main types of heart valve surgery:
- Surgery to replace faulty heart valves
- Surgery to repair faulty heart valves
At Stanford, we repair rather than replace heart valves whenever possible to preserve a patient's own heart valve.
Types of Heart Valve Malfunction
There are four valves of the heart:
- Mitral valve
- Aortic valve
- Tricuspid valve
- Pulmonary valve
Heart disease can affect any of the four valves of the heart. Most commonly, it affects the mitral and aortic valves. Some types of heart valve disease are congenital and other types develop over time.
There are two common types of heart valve malfunction:
- Regurgitation: The valve(s) does not close completely, causing the blood to flow backward instead of forward through the valve.
- Stenosis: The valve(s) opening becomes narrowed or does not form properly, inhibiting the flow of blood out of the ventricle or atria. The heart is forced to pump blood with increased force in order to move blood through the stiff (stenotic) valve(s).
Heart valves can have one type of malfunction or have both types of valve malfunctions at the same time.