Aortic Valve Repair and Replacement | MedStar Health

Treatment options to repair or replace the main artery valve

If medication and lifestyle changes aren’t enough to manage a problem with your aortic valve, your doctor may recommend repairing or replacing it. The surgeons in our Structural Heart Program are international leaders in continually developing better strategies.

Along with traditional open surgical techniques, we offer five minimally invasive replacement methods, including transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR). We have been a site for every major clinical trial for this procedure since its initial 2007 study.

We also offer a relatively new technique known as valve sparing or valve preserving surgery for aortic root aneurysms. With this procedure, your surgeon can repair the aorta while preserving your own valve.

Our doctors meet daily to discuss and analyze all patients’ conditions based on the severity of their disease, age and overall health to determine the best treatment approach for their unique condition.

Aortic valve repair

Whenever possible, we prefer to repair the valve because it uses your own tissue, carries a lower risk of infection, and reduces the need to take blood-thinning medications for the rest of your life as you would with some types of valve replacement.

Valve repair may be able to patch a hole in the valve’s flaps or reshape the flaps to allow the valve to open and close more effectively. Aortic valve repair is usually performed through traditional open-heart surgery and requires specific expertise, which you can find here.

 

Aortic valve replacement

If the damage to your aortic valve is severe and cannot be repaired, your doctor may recommend replacing it with one of two options:

  • Biological valves: These valves may be made from cow or pig tissue and supported with mechanical parts. Biological valves can last 15 to 20 years and do not require that you take blood-thinning medications. These valves often are recommended for elderly patients.

  • Mechanical valves: These valves may be made of plastic, carbon or metal and will require blood thinners to reduce the risk of stroke.These valves often are recommended for young adults because they last longer than a biological replacement.

The replacement procedure can be done through traditional open-heart surgery or through minimally invasive methods that:

  • Use a few small incisions instead of opening your chest
  • Access the heart by guiding a thin, flexible tube known as a catheter through a blood vessel in your leg

Conditions

Aortic Stenosis

Aortic stenosis, also known as aortic valve stenosis, is a narrowing of the aortic valve.

Aortic Valve Disease

Aortic valve disease is a type of heart valve disease that occurs when the valve between your aorta (the largest blood vessel) and the left ventricle (the heart’s main pumping chamber) doesn’t work as it should.

Bicuspid Aortic Valve Disease

People with bicuspid aortic valve disease (BAVD) have an aortic valve made up of two flaps instead of three.

Takayasu’s Arteritis

Takayasu’s arteritis is the inflammation and damage of blood vessels that reduces blood flow through the body.

 

Tests

Angiogram (Angiography)

An angiogram is a special X-ray taken as a special dye is injected through a thin, flexible tube called a catheter to detect blockages or aneurysms in blood vessels.

Cardiac Catheterization

Cardiac catheterization is a minimally invasive way to diagnose and treat a variety of heart and vascular conditions by guiding thin, flexible tubes called catheters through blood vessels to problem areas.

Echocardiogram

An echocardiogram uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of your heart.

Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE)

Transesophageal echocardiogram allows us to take very detailed images of your heart structure from a probe in your esophagus.

Our locations

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MedStar Union Memorial Hospital

201 E. University Pkwy.
Baltimore, MD 21218

MedStar Washington Hospital Center

110 Irving St. NW
Washington, DC 20010

Additional information

A heart patient becomes a mom

Joanna Zimmerman and her husband wanted to have a baby, but Joanna’s heart condition posed some unique challenges. Learn how we worked with her to grow her family and keep her heart healthy.

Read our Cardiovascular Performance & Outcomes Booklet

Ask MHVI

Have questions for our heart and vascular program? Email us at AskMHVI@medstar.net.