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Double Valve Replacement
Double valve replacement surgery is better known as heart valve replacement surgery. It is performed to treat the heart by replacing a damaged valve with a healthy one. The valve replacement keeps the heart safe and sound from further damage or infection.
The human heart consists of four valves: the mitral valve, the tricuspid valve, the pulmonic valve and the aortic valve. These valves direct blood from and to the body throughout the heart. A defect, disease, damage or infection of the heart leads to the malfunction of any of the four valves. The severe malfunction of a heart valve gets in the way of the blood flow. It also causes fainting spells, heart palpitation and difficulty breathing. These physical conditions worsen and may threat life with death if the damaged valve is not replaced timely.
How The Surgery Takes Place
The surgeons first of all, cut through and separate the ribs and breastbone. Then the patient is placed on a cardiopulmonary bypass machine. This machine will carry out the functions of the lungs and heart during the execution of the surgery. Then, the surgeon cuts open the heart to locate the position of the damaged valve. They loosen the valve from the connecting tendons by slicing around the valve. The place of the damaged valve is filled up with a new valve. The surgeons take out the patient under treatment of the bypass machine and close the chest by suturing the incision. It takes four to five hours to execute the entire surgery meticulously.
Different types of valves
Replacement valves are of three types. One is made of animal tissue, especially the aortic valve of a pig. The second one is mechanically made of plastic and metal. The third one mainly includes the valves of human heart. This valve is removed from the body of an organ donor.
The development of risks and complications as a result of double valve replacement is rare. But, some of the complications may be severe. Calcium deposits in the heart results from the replacement of a damaged valve with the valve that is made of animal tissue. These deposits impede the normal function of the heart. Anther risk of the valve replacement is the dislodging of the valves. Blood may clot on the surface area of the new valve and get into the general way of circulation. It blocks the artery that supplies the kidneys, brain, and legs with blood. The clotting of blood may cause stroke, kidney failure and fainting spells. Heart muscle infection is also a result of this replacement in some cases. Intravenous antibiotics are prescribed to treat it. Persistent infection indicates to another heart valve replacement.
Majority of heart replacement cases turn up successfully. Only a few patients die on account of the surgery. The percentage of patients who die during or after the surgery is very low. Percentage of patients who are under 65 and who die on account of the surgery is less than 1. However, the quality of life is improved after the surgery in successful cases.
When Can I Recover And Join Work?
Immediately after the surgery, you would be placed in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), where your progress would be monitored. Usually the patient recovers with 2 days and is shifted from the ICU to the cardiac medical-surgical floor where the functioning of the heart is monitored regularly. The recovery from surgery in the hospital differs for each patient but is generally within 2 to 4 weeks the patient is discharged. After you return, you will not feel fully recovered. It will take, another 6 to 8 weeks at home before you can return to your normal routine.
Double Valve Replacement - The Ross Procedure
“Double Valve Replacement?!” you may be thinking to yourself, “Why a double valve replacement if only your aortic valve was problematic?”
It’s a great question you raise. It seems very logical that only having one aortic valve replacement surgery would and should be necessary. So, why a double valve replacement?
Enter Dr. Donald Ross, the inventor of the Ross Procedure operation.
The Ross Procedure is a type of specialized aortic valve surgery where the patient’s diseased aortic valve is replaced with his or her own pulmonary valve. During the double valve replacement, the pulmonary valve is then replaced with a homograft - a human heart valve donor. In children and young adults, or older particularly active patients, this procedure offers several advantages over traditional aortic valve replacement with mechanical or bovine replacements.
Named in honor of its creator, English surgeon Dr. Donald Ross, in the late 1960s, the double valve replacement is a innovative means of valvular replacement for the aortic valve, particularly in children. and patients under 50 years of age.
Figure : Double Valve Replacement Diagram (The Ross Procedure)
Although cardiac surgeons in this country began using the procedure in the 1980s, it is still performed only at a very selected group of centers.
As my surgeon, Dr. Vaughn Starnes, shared with me, “With the Ross Procedure, you get to keep your own valve. Plus, the human donor valve will be in the pulmonary position which is much less stressful due to the lower pressure in that cavity.”
To learn more about the advantages of the Ross Procedure and the experience of having a double valve replacement, I have documented my story (the good, the bad, the ugly) in a comprehensive book about cardiac surgery titled, The Patient’s Guide To Heart Valve Surgery.
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