Artificial Heart Valves
Artificial heart valves are often used to replace damaged heart valves in people with certain types of heart disease. There are many artificial heart valves to choose from, and The University of Kansas Health System offers all of today's most current heart valve replacement options. In fact, we offer more minimally invasive heart valve options than any other hospital in the Kansas City region.
For the appropriate patient, all of our artificial heart valves can be placed through a minimally invasive procedure. Our patients travel to Kansas City from across the region for today's most current artificial heart valve replacement options.
What are artificial heart valves?
Heart valves control blood flow as blood leaves and enters the heart. When a natural valve stops functioning properly, an artificial valve can be surgically implanted to replace it. Valve replacement surgery is an alternative to valve repair surgery. The main advantage of using an artificial heart valve is that it’s unlikely to wear out during the recipient’s lifetime.
Who can have artificial heart valves?
Artificial heart valves are beneficial for people who have a heart valve disorder or narrowing of the arteries, also known as aortic stenosis. If the diseased aortic valve can't be repaired through heart surgery, or if you are not a good candidate for surgery, a less invasive heart valve procedure may be recommended.
How do artificial heart valves work?
The human heart has 4 valves that control the direction that blood flows through the heart and body. During heart valve replacement surgery, your doctor will remove the faulty valve and replace it with an artificial valve. This new valve will act like your own – helping ensure proper blood flow throughout the body.
There are a few different types of replacement heart valves, including:
The University of Kansas Health System was the only hospital in the Kansas City region to participate in a clinical study investigating the effectiveness of CoreValve – a revolutionary option for deteriorating aortic valves. CoreValve is a small device shaped like a champagne hood that replaces narrowing heart valves for improved blood flow. Research has shown CoreValve to be more beneficial than traditional surgery for high-risk patients.
Our hospital was one of fewer than 100 sites to evaluate the second generation of TAVR devices, the Medtronic CoreValve Evolut R System, for high- or extreme-risk patients with severe aortic stenosis. CoreValve Evolut R provides the option to recapture and reposition the device, if needed, for better positioning and control.
Our hospital participated in a clinical trial to study the effectiveness of the Edwards SAPIEN heart valve. Now available in Kansas City to the general public, this sophisticated valve offers advanced precision, safety and performance. It is the first transcatheter valve with full FDA approval for high-risk patients and patients deemed inoperable. We also offer SAPIEN XT.
The Melody valve was specifically designed for pediatric and adult patients to treat right ventricular outflow tract conduit dysfunction. Melody valve patients experience less blood loss, shorter hospital stays and return to work and regular activities more quickly than patients having open heart surgery.
Recognized among the nation’s best
U.S. News & World Report recognized our program as high performing in its 2020-21 Best Hospitals report. The honor places our care among the top 10% of cardiology and heart surgery programs evaluated. We are proud to provide you and your loved ones with nationally recognized care.
Benefits and risks of artificial heart valves
Although surgery has long been considered the gold standard for treating aortic stenosis, less invasive alternatives have shown equal or even better outcomes in people who are not able to receive surgery. Placing artificial heart valves through a minimally invasive procedure called transcatheter aortic valve replacement, or TAVR, is quickly becoming the treatment of choice in high-risk or inoperable patients with heart valve disease.
Through this approach, you'll enjoy several benefits, including:
- Faster recovery time
- Less time in the hospital
- Shorter, less visible incisions
Newer studies suggest that TAVR may be as effective as surgery in those who are low to moderate risk as well.
What happens during artificial heart valve surgery?
You will meet with both the cardiothoracic surgeon and the cardiologist in a single visit, and all necessary imaging and other tests are performed at 1 appointment. This streamlined process reduces the number of visits and is intended to benefit those traveling to our hospital for a consultation.
Your heart care team will evaluate your condition and determine whether or not aortic valve replacement with TAVR is right for you. If so, you will be scheduled for surgery.
During the heart valve replacement procedure, surgeons make a very small incision in either the chest, underarm or near the groin. The incision is just large enough to allow a thin, flexible tube (called a catheter) to be inserted into an artery. The catheter is then routed through the artery and up into the heart. The artificial heart valve is placed into position and expands, replacing the failed heart valve. Once in place, the device functions like a healthy valve.
You will be in the hospital for 2 to 5 days, rather than 10 days for traditional surgery. You will likely be placed on medications to control your pain and help prevent blood clots from forming. Your cardiologist may recommend a cardiac rehabilitation program to help you ease back into daily activities and speed recovery.
Why choose us for an artificial heart valve
- Our heart specialists treat many patients who have been considered too high-risk by other cardiac care programs, yet our mortality rates are lower than expected.
- Our hospital was the first in Kansas City to perform complex heart valve procedures.
- Our Lynn H. Kindred, MD, Catheterization Lab offers all of today's most sophisticated minimally invasive valve options.
- Our physicians are at the forefront of the newest surgical, nonsurgical and minimally invasive techniques for heart care.
- We are able to deliver excellent outcomes by focusing on less invasive procedures, which require smaller incisions, fewer transfusions and result in lower complication rates.