Aortic valve replacement surgery is the most commonly performed heart valve procedure. Prior to surgery, common symptoms reported by patients include shortness of breath, chest tightness, light headedness and tiredness. Aortic valves can either leak (regurgitation) or become narrowed (stenosis). Traditional surgical intervention for this has been via a sternotomy (open chest) approach and the aortic valve is replaced with either an animal (tissue) valve or a metal (mechanical) valve. Both types of valves have pros and cons; the final decision is a very personal one and further information would be provided during an initial assessment to help you make an informed choice.
Where appropriate, Mr Zacharias can also provide information about different surgical approaches to aortic valve replacement to assist your decision about this. Over the past six years, he has been offering an Anterior Right Thoracotomy (ART) approach to the aortic valve surgery. This is a minimally invasive (smaller incision) approach where the breast bone (sternum) does not need to be divided. Mr Zacharias has reviewed the results of over a 150 of his cases and these highlight that blood loss and risk of wound infection was less when compared to the traditional sternotomy approach. In the ART group, patients were discharged home quicker and were able to lift/carry and self-care faster once at home. Results further show a low risk of complication in both young and elderly patients and Mr Zacharias is happy to discuss this further if you are interested in the minimally invasive ART surgical approach for aortic valve replacement.
All patients can be considered for the ART approach. As part of the assessment process a CT scan is completed to ascertain whether there is a clear arterial tree as an artery in the groin is used for the bypass machine.