Why Choose Penn Medicine
If your pulmonary valve is not working properly, it may need to be surgically repaired or replaced. At Penn, our cardiac surgeons perform more valve surgeries than any other hospital in Pennsylvania. We repair your valve whenever possible to preserve the heart’s function and avoid complications that may arise with a prosthetic valve.
As one of the largest Heart Valve Disease Programs in the country, Penn provides specialized care for adult patients with congenital heart conditions like pulmonary heart disease. Through the Philadelphia Adult Congenital Heart Center, we work with Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to monitor patients and collaborate on complex pulmonary valve repairs and replacements.
Pulmonary Valve Surgery Overview
Cardiac surgeons treat pulmonary valve stenosis and regurgitation (leaky valve) with surgery. We repair and replace pulmonary valves using either open-chest surgery or minimally invasive surgery performed through smaller incisions. Your heart structure, valve disease, age and general health will help determine which type of surgery is right for you. If you need surgery to correct another heart condition, your surgeon may address both during the same procedure.
Pulmonary Valve Surgery Procedure Details
Cardiac surgeons at Penn operate on your heart in state-of-the-art operating rooms. One of our expert cardiac anesthesiologists will administer general anesthesia and ensure that you are sleeping comfortably during your valve repair or replacement. Then, your surgeon:
- Places you on a heart-lung bypass machine, so that blood will continue to pump through your body during the procedure.
- Makes several smaller incisions in your chest (for minimally invasive surgery) or one longer incision in the right part of your chest near the breastbone (for traditional, open chest surgery).
- Repairs or replaces your damaged pulmonary valve.
- Removes you from the bypass machine, ensures your heart is functioning correctly and closes your incision.
Pulmonary Valve Repair
Cardiac surgeons at Penn surgically repair your pulmonary valve whenever possible, instead of replacing it. The type of surgical valve repair done depends on your diagnosis, and may include:
- Ring annuloplasty: To repair a leaking valve, the surgeon sews a ring (made of metal, cloth or tissue) around the valve to tighten it.
- Commissurotomy: The surgeon loosens a valve with stenosis.
- Valve flap repair: The surgeon alters your pulmonary valve flaps by trimming, patching, shaping or rebuilding them so that they close tightly.
Pulmonary Valve Replacement
If repairing your pulmonary valve is not an option, your cardiac surgeon may suggest a surgical replacement. For adults with congenital heart disease, pulmonary valve replacement is the most common surgery performed. After your doctor removes the diseased pulmonary valve, replacement options include:
- Mechanical valve: A man-made valve can last as long as 30 years. To prevent blood clots that may accompany a mechanical valve, you doctor may prescribe blood-thinning medications.
- Biological valve: The replacement valve is made from cow, pig or human heart tissue. These valves last 10 to 20 years.
Cardiac Rehabilitation After Heart Valve Surgery
Your recovery time after surgery depends on the type of surgery you had. Patients tend to recover from minimally invasive surgery much quicker than from traditional open-chest surgery. Your cardiologist may recommend cardiac rehabilitation following your heart surgery. This outpatient program offers guidance in exercise and nutrition, while educating you about heart-healthy habits.