Heart Valve Repair
What to expect the day of your heart valve repair
You will likely be admitted to the hospital the day before your heart valve repair surgery. For minimally invasive procedures, you will probably report to the hospital the morning of your surgery. Before your surgery, you can generally expect to:
- Talk with a pre-operative nurse. The nurse will perform an exam and ensure that all needed tests are in order. The nurse can also answer questions and will make sure that you sign the surgical consent.
- Remove all clothing and jewelry and dress in a hospital gown. It is a good idea to leave all jewelry and valuables at home or with a family member if possible. The surgical team will respect your privacy and give you blankets for modesty and warmth in the surgical suite.
- Talk with the anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist about your medical history and the type of anesthesia you will receive.
- A surgical team member will start an IV.
- About an hour before your surgery begins, you will receive medication to help you rest comfortably.
- The anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist will start your anesthesia.
- For general anesthesia, your anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist will place a tube in your lungs to protect and control your breathing. You will not feel or remember this or the surgical procedure as they happen.
- A team member will insert a tube (catheter) into your bladder to monitor your kidney function.
- The surgical team will monitor your vital signs and other critical body functions. This occurs throughout the procedure and your recovery until you are alert, breathing effectively, and your vital signs are stable.
- You may have a drain placed around your heart to collect fluids. This is usually removed in the first few days after surgery.
What are the risks and potential complications of a heart valve repair?
Any surgery involves risks and potential complications. Complications may become serious and life threatening in some cases. Complications can develop during the procedure or throughout your recovery.
General risks of surgery
The general risks of surgical procedures include:
- Adverse reaction or problems related to anesthesia, such as an allergic reaction and problems with breathing
- Bleeding, which can lead to shock
- Blood clots, in particular a deep vein thrombosis that develops in the leg or pelvis. A blood clot can travel to your lungs, heart or brain and cause a pulmonary embolism, heart attack, or stroke.
- Infection and septicemia, which is the spread of a local infection to the blood
Potential complications of a heart valve repair
Complications of a heart valve repair can be serious and even life threatening. You can best reduce the risk of potential complications and help manage complications if any occur by following the treatment plan you and your surgeon design specifically for you. Potential complications include:
- Heart attack
- Heart arrhythmias or problems with heart rhythm
- Kidney failure
- Memory problems
- Post-pericardiotomy syndrome, which is a low-grade fever and chest pain for up to six months following open heart surgery. A pericardiotomy is a surgical incision of the sac that surrounds the heart.
Reducing your risk of complications
You can reduce the risk of certain complications by following your treatment plan including:
- Ensuring that all members of your care team are aware of any allergies you have
- Following activity, dietary and lifestyle restrictions and recommendations before surgery and during recovery
- Informing your doctor or radiologist if you are nursing or if there is any possibility that you may be pregnant
- Notifying your doctor immediately of any concerns, such as bleeding, fever, increase in pain, or wound redness, swelling or drainage
- Taking your medications exactly as directed
How do I prepare for my heart valve repair?
You are a very important member of your own health care team. The steps you take before surgery can help improve your outcome after the procedure. You can prepare yourself for a heart valve repair by:
© Copyright 2012 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. For specific medical advice, diagnoses and treatment, consult your doctor.