Doctors generally try conservative treatments, such as medication and routine monitoring, to manage mild or moderate aortic stenosis, but as of 2015, repair or replacement surgeries are the only options to completely eliminate the condition, according to Mayo Clinic. The most common surgery is aortic valve replacement, but doctors may choose procedures such as transcatheter aortic valve replacement or surgical valvuloplasty depending on a patient’s medical needs.
The aortic valve opens and closes to regulate blood flow between the heart and the aorta, as described by MedlinePlus. Stenosis occurs when the valve doesn’t open enough to allow for healthy blood circulation. In a traditional aortic valve replacement surgery, the doctor performs an open-heart procedure to remove the damaged valve. The doctor sews in a new valve made from biological tissues or a mechanical valve made from substances such as titanium. A catheter helps drain fluid that collects around the heart, and the surgeon installs a brace made of stainless steel wires inside the chest to keep the breastbone closed.
Transcatheter aortic valve replacement is a less invasive option that doctors may use for high-risk patients, as Mayo Clinic notes. The catheter contains an attached balloon inside a collapsed prosthetic valve. The doctor inserts the catheter into the femoral artery or left heart ventricle and threads it to the damaged valve. The balloon inflates, allowing the prosthetic valve to expand and widen the pathway.