Aortic valve replacement is the most effective method of treating severe aortic valve disease.
It involves removing the diseased valve and replacing it with an artificial valve. There are two types of artificial valves:
Mechanical valves are very durable and rarely fail. However, they may require anticoagulation such as warfarin, which increases the risk of bleeding and may require regular monitoring. On the other hand, biological valves do not require blood thinners although they may not last as long as mechanical valves1.
The average time a biological valve lasts is around 15-20 years, to which a patient may require another operation after this2. This is a complex decision that the patient must ultimately make and therefore, should discuss with their surgeon.
Image 1: Two types of artificial valves3
Aortic valve replacement is regarded as the definitive therapy for severe aortic stenosis. The multi-disciplinary heart team will conduct a thorough evaluation of the patient’s status and make the final treatment decision for either surgical AVR (SAVR) or transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI), which is a less invasive treatment compared to surgery. This decision will be made based on patient risk for surgery and suitability.4
There are three main surgical procedures for treating aortic stenosis: