Advantages of Aortic Valve Bypass Surgery

Before surgeons at the University of Maryland Medical Center began using this procedure to treat aortic stenosis, patients had to undergo traditional open-heart surgery to replace the aortic valve. While very effective at prolonging life and relieving symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain and fainting, replacement of the aortic valve requires a breast-bone splitting incision, a two-hour period of support on the heart-lung machine, scraping out the old valve and stopping the heart. While most patients do well with aortic valve replacement, there is a prolonged period of disability and a risk of stroke, pacemaker placement and death.

By undergoing minimally invasive aortic valve bypass surgery instead of traditional aortic valve replacement, patients are offered the following advantages:

  • There is no need for the heart-lung machine.
  • The heart is never stopped.
  • There is less likelihood of a stroke.
  • There is no risk of patients requiring a pacemaker.

In addition, several recent reports have found that between one-third and two-thirds of patients that are experiencing symptoms from a severely narrowed valve are never considered for surgery because their physicians feel it may be too risky. Aortic valve bypass surgery offers an option to treat this group of patients and return them to their normal lifestyles.

For a more comprehensive look at the advantages of aortic valve bypass surgery when compared to traditional surgical options, please view the chart below:

Aortic Valve Bypass Conventional (Open) Aortic Valve Replacement
Breastbone incision
Small left chest incision
Heart-Lung machine
Mandatory (1 ½ - 2 hours)
Need for blood thinner
Yes if mechanical valve used
Heart stopped during surgery
Long-term risk of stroke
1-2 percent per YEAR

*Risk of stroke is likely LOW: about 30 percent of blood flow (including to the brain) continues through the patients own (narrow) valve; blood flow across the substitute valve (where clots can form) never reaches the brain.

This page was last updated: August 19, 2014

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