Long Beach Memorial Medical Center Press Room
MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute Features Heart Valve Center for Repair and Replacement of ValvesJanuary 23, 2013
Heart valves can take quite a beating… about 100,000 a day to be exact. With such tireless use, heart valves can experience multiple conditions that prevent them from working properly, such as regurgitation, stenosis and atresia.
Regurgitation, or backflow, occurs if a valve doesn't close tightly. In the United States, backflow most often is due to prolapse — when the flaps of the valve flop or bulge back into the heart chamber during a heartbeat.
Stenosis occurs if the flaps of a valve thicken, stiffen or fuse together, preventing the heart valve from fully opening. As a result, not enough blood flows through the valve.
Atresia is present if a heart valve lacks an opening for blood to pass through.
Though many people may have heart valve defects without symptoms, in some patients, heart valve disease slowly worsens until life-threatening symptoms develop. If untreated, advanced heart valve disease can cause heart failure, stroke, blood clots or death due to sudden cardiac arrest.
Some people in need of clinical intervention are born with heart valve disease, while others acquire it later in life. In any case, fatigue, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, rapid weight gain, chest pain and fainting are all signs that your valves could need a boost.
Patients presenting symptoms of valve malfunction typically receive heart valve repair or replacement surgery, an open-heart surgery, performed to mend a defective or diseased heart valve. During heart valve repair, a cardiothoracic surgeon repairs the heart valve using artificial parts. In a heart valve replacement, the valve is removed and a new heart valve is sutured into place. Heart replacement valves can be made from metal and plastic or from human or animal tissue.
At Long Beach Memorial, “We specialize in heart valve surgery — approximately half of our heart operations are of the valve,” says Gregory Thomas, M.D., MPH, medical director, MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute, Long Beach Memorial. Because of this, the MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute (MHVI) utilizes state-of-the-art 3-D echocardiography to evaluate the valves in a more comprehensive way with exact precision.
For many diagnosed with this condition, robotic assisted heart surgery offers shorter hospital stays, less bleeding, a reduced risk of infection and a much faster recovery. Robotic assisted heart valve repair or replacement surgery, using the da Vinci® Si Surgical System (da Vinci), is performed at MHVI to successfully mend defective or diseased mitral or tricuspid valves. Innovative advancements in heart valve repair or replacement surgical techniques have allowed this surgery to be performed with the heart still beating and without separating the patient’s sternum and ribcage.
Experts in the repair and replacement of deteriorating heart valves, the entire Heart Valve Center care team of MHVI works to determine the best treatment option and reverse the effects of patient’s unmanageable valves through “access to advanced technology and a team that knows how to use it,” says Dr. Thomas. As a leader in minimally invasive valve repair surgery, the experienced and talented physicians, nurses and care team at Long Beach Memorial are dedicated to get heart beats back on track.
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