Overview of Valve Sparing Aortic Root Replacement

Valve sparing aortic root replacement is a highly specialized operation that repairs the portion of the aorta closest to the heart (the aortic root), while preserving the patient's own aortic valve.

Certain patients will develop diseases that affect the aortic root. This is most common in individuals with Marfan syndrome, but can also be associated with high blood pressure.

This operation is needed when the aortic root is enlarged, or has an aneurysm. The surgeon removes the enlarged section and replaces it with a man-made (synthetic) tube, called a "graft".

The graft used to replace the aortic root is made from a medical-grade cloth called Dacron that is used to replace or repair blood vessels.

During the operation the patient's aortic valve is set aside and then used again. At first, the surgeon removes the valve along with the dilated section of the aorta. Then, the surgeon preserves the patient's aortic valve and, using special stiches, sews it into the inside of the synthetic graft. The coronary arteries are also reattached.

The patient's own aortic valve is sewn into the graft. The valve is shown here in the closed position.

Valve sparing aortic root replacement prevents life-threatening complications, including aortic dissection or rupture, but does not require insertion of an artificial valve. This operation is ideal for young, active patients, as their own valve can potentially last the rest of their lives.

Recovery after the operation is similar to other open heart surgeries. In general, patients that undergo a planned, elective operation and who do not have other medical problems recover smoothly. The graft is highly durable and does not require any additional medicines. We do recommend regular visits with your physician to monitor the status of the aortic valve and the remainder of the aorta.

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