The aortic valve is situated between the left ventricle and the aorta, the main artery that supplies oxygenated blood to the different parts of the body. Narrowing of the valve (aortic stenosis) or improper apposition of the valve (aortic regurgitation) affects the efficiency of the heart. Several treatments are recommended to relieve the symptoms of a faulty aortic valve and prevent further damage. However, when the symptoms are severe or life threatening, repair or replacement of the faulty valve is advised.
Heart valve repair is usually preferred over replacement. In case the valve cannot be repaired it is surgically replaced by a mechanical or biological valve. Traditionally, aortic valve replacement is performed through an open approach where a long incision is made over the chest and the breast bone is cut (sternotomy) to gain access to the heart.
Port access surgery is a new minimally invasive alternative to replace the aortic valve. It is performed through a small, 3-4 inch, incision over the chest between the ribs and does not require splitting of the breast bone. The surgeon can view the area of surgery through a camera inserted through the incision over the chest.
The benefits of minimally invasive approach over traditional open heart surgery include:
Port access valve surgery, like traditional approach, also requires the heart lung machine which takes over the function of the heart. A clamp is then applied to occlude the aorta and heart is stopped through the infusion of a drug. The aortic valve is then replaced by cutting open the heart. After the valve is replaced the incision over the heart is closed, the clamp is removed, heart is restarted and patient is slowly weaned off from the heart lung machine. The only difference in this procedure is that a small incision is made over the groin to connect the heart lung machine and the drugs to stop the heart are infused through a tube inserted into a blood vessel through an incision over the neck.
Your cardiothoracic surgeon will evaluate your condition and determine whether you are an ideal candidate for port access valve surgery.