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What Is Pulmonary Valve Repair?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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Pulmonary valve repair addresses defects in the valve of the heart that is responsible for routing blood into the pulmonary arteries. These structures route deoxygenated blood to the lungs and are an important part of the circulatory system. Repair may be necessary due to a congenital abnormality in the heart or as a result of an acquired problem. It is usually performed by a surgeon who specializes in cardiac care and may require a hospital stay, depending on the specific nature of the procedure.

Four valves in the heart regulate the movement of blood through individual chambers and into the pulmonary arteries and aorta. When they fail to function properly, the heart may be forced to work harder, and the patient’s circulation may be impaired. Over time, this can lead to significant health problems. Valve repairs may be necessary to reinforce a valve so it can close tightly, or to address a valve that has hardened and narrowed and no longer allows enough blood through.

The need for surgery can be determined in a physical examination and with the assistance of imaging studies. Patients with a need for pulmonary valve repair or replacement have distinctive heart sounds caused by the malfunctioning valve which may be audible with the assistance of a stethoscope. Images can reveal the specifics of structures inside the heart, and tools like a Doppler imaging study can trace the movement of blood in real time.

During pulmonary valve repair, the patient is placed under full anesthesia to make it possible to access the heart. This may require an open incision or it could be possible to perform a minimally invasive procedure. The surgeon exposes the valve so it can be reshaped, reinforced, or otherwise modified to help it function more effectively. Once the repair is complete, the surgeon can close and allow the patient to transition to recovery. Open heart procedures may necessitate several days in the hospital, while a minimally invasive pulmonary valve repair may require only a few hours in the hospital or a single overnight stay.

As an alternative to pulmonary valve repair, a surgeon may consider valve replacement. This may be the best option for a patient who is likely to need multiple follow-up surgeries. Replacement valves can come from a number of sources, including mechanical valves and products produced from biological tissue. It can be preferable to use the patient’s own tissue for as long as possible to avoid the risk of rejection.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
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