If you are scheduled for heart valve repair or heart valve replacement surgery at Brigham and Women's Hospital, you can expect to receive the highest quality of skill and care available anywhere.
Every year, our cardiac surgeons perform more than 600 heart valve operations, including "minimally invasive" procedures. In addition to experienced surgeons at Brigham and Women's Hospital, you will be well cared for by a collaborative team of nurses, physician assistants, physical therapists and social workers. It's no wonder that U.S. News & World Report consistently includes Brigham and Women's Hospital as a top hospital for cardiology and heart surgery.
Your heart is a pumping muscle responsible for circulating oxygen-rich blood throughout your body. There are four chambers inside your heart: the two upper chambers are called atria and the two lower chambers are called ventricles. The heart muscle squeezes blood from chamber to chamber.
Your heart contains four valves, which open to allow blood to move forward through the heart and close to prevent blood from flowing backward.
Heart valves can be abnormally formed as birth defects or damaged by rheumatic fever, bacterial infection, and calcific degeneration. Valves can also degenerate with the normal aging process.
Two common types of valve disease are:
To compensate for these disorders, your heart pumps harder, which can result in inadequate blood circulation to the rest of your body.
In addition, this excess work can weaken the heart, causing it to enlarge and produce the following symptoms:
To diagnose and determine treatment for your particular valve disease, your doctor will obtain a complete medical history, perform a thorough physical exam and order any or all of the following special diagnostic tests:
Heart valve disease initially may be treated medically but, in most cases, surgery is necessary to repair or replace the damaged valve or valves. Your surgeon will determine which procedure is best for you, taking into consideration your age, medical history, the nature of your heart disease, your lifestyle and your ability to take anticoagulants (medications that prevent your blood from clotting).
For heart valve replacement, there are three main classifications of artificial valves:
Some valves can be surgically repaired to help them open or close more efficiently. Two common surgical repair procedures are:
The average time required for heart valve surgery is four hours. Your heart valve surgery will be performed by a specialized team:
Heart valve surgery can be performed by three surgical approaches:
For patients without coronary disease, heart valve replacement/repair can now be performed through very small incisions (3 inches) compared with those used in conventional surgery.
Minimally invasive heart valve replacement surgery is performed in two different ways:
Minimally invasive heart valve surgery, while maintaining the quality of the operative procedure may result in:
The Carl J. and Ruth Shapiro Cardiovascular Center at BWH is one of the most advanced centers of its kind in the New England region. Bringing together the full range of cardiovascular services in one building, the Center provides the technology and infrastructure to enable seamless and coordinated care for all cardiovascular patients.
Patient- and Family-focused Care
Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) has long been committed to not only the care of our patients, but also the many other needs that they and their families have. This philosophy of patient- and family-focused care – involving systems and services that emphasize healing in a comfortable, relaxed environment – is a guiding force behind the care we provide at the Center.
Quality of Patient Care
BWH is committed to providing all of our patients with the safest, highest-quality, most-satisfying care possible and follow established protocols that have been shown to improve patient outcomes. Our Inpatient Satisfaction Survey, sent to patients’ to assess their total care experience, helps us to monitor what we are doing well and where we could improve. We pride ourselves in the Quality of Patient Care we provide and how we compare with other hospitals.
If you believe you should have an evaluation and would like to schedule an appointment with one of our cardiac surgery experts, call 1-800-294-9999 to speak to one of our knowledgeable coordinators who can help to connect you to the doctor that best meets your needs, or fill out an online appointment request form.