During heart valve replacement surgery, the patient receives anesthesia and the doctor opens the chest using a large surgical incision. With the patient connected to a heart-lung machine, the old heart valve is removed and the replacement is put in place, says WebMD.
Before surgery, the physician explores treatment options to determine the best course of action for replacing the heart mitral valve. Usually done as open heart surgery, mitral valve replacement repairs a malfunctioning heart valve. Although mitral valve repair can be performed using minimally invasive techniques, open heart surgery is the most widely chosen method of mitral valve repair, states WebMD.
Using a general anesthetic, the surgeon makes a large incision and uses a cardiopulmonary bypass machine to oxygenate the blood while circulating it outside the body. Protecting the heart from damage using methods, such as cooling the heart, or slowing or stopping the heartbeat, allows the surgeon to make the mitral valve repair by removing the malfunctioning heart valve. The replacement valve is an artificial replacement sewn into place before closing the incision, according to WebMD.
Following surgery, recovery takes place in the intensive care unit of the hospital. Full recovery from surgery takes several months of gradually increasing physical activity to avoid damage at the site of the incision, says WebMD.