This is surgery to replace a damaged heart valve. The heart's four valves open and tightly close. The tricuspid and mitral valves allow blood to flow from one chamber to another. The pulmonary and aortic valves allow blood to flow to the large blood vessels. The valves make it so that blood can only flow forward when the heart squeezes. Usually, only one valve is replaced at a time. However, at times, one or more valves may need to be replaced. The new heart valves can be:

  • Mechanical, made of metal and plastic, such as a St. Jude valve
  • Made of tissue—most commonly from a pig or a cow, but they may also be supplied by a human donor or even made from your own tissue

Aortic Valve Replacements: Mechanical vs. Tissue
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This procedure is done to repair a valve that is not functioning properly due to:

  • Congenital defects
  • Narrowed, stiff valves that obstruct the free flow of blood
  • Loose, leaky valves that allow blood to flow the wrong way through the heart
  • Infected heart valves