Aortic Valve Replacement Care

Learn what care is required for the Aortic Valve Replacement procedure. Find out what you need to do prior to the procedure, how long it will take, if you will be required to stay in the hospital and what the postoperative care is.

Aortic Valve Replacement Details

What to Expect Prior to Procedure

Your doctor will likely do the following:

  • Physical exam
  • Blood tests
  • Echocardiogram -This is a test that uses sound waves to produce a moving picture of your heart and its valves.
  • Electrocardiogram -This is a test of the electrical system of your heart.
  • Cardiac catheterization -For this test, a very thin tube is threaded up through your aorta. Contrast is squirted through the catheter, and x-ray images are captured. These images can reveal problems with the functioning of your aortic valve and also determine whether your heart arteries are free from disease.

Leading up to your procedure:

  • Talk to your doctor about your medicines. You may be asked to stop taking some medicines up to one week before the procedure, like:
    • Aspirin or other anti-inflammatory drugs
    • Blood thinners, such as clopidogrel (Plavix) or warfarin (Coumadin)
  • Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your surgery, unless told otherwise by your doctor.
  • Arrange for help at home after you return from the hospital.
  • Arrange to have someone drive you home when you leave the hospital.
  • Wear comfortable clothing.

Aortic valve replacement is done with general anesthesia . You will be asleep.

Description of the Procedure

An incision will be made down the middle of your chest. The breastbone will be separated so that your heart can be reached. A heart-lung machine will be attached. The machine will act as your heart and lungs. This allows the doctor to stop your heart to safely work on the heart valve.

An incision will be made in the aorta. The damaged valve will be cut out and a new valve will be sewn into place. The aorta will then be sewn back together. The heart will be started up again and the heart-lung machine will be removed. The breastbone will be wired together. The skin incision in the chest will be sewn back together.

After the Procedure

You will be monitored in an intensive care unit directly after surgery. When you awaken, you will notice that you are attached to a number of devices, including:

  • Monitors to track your heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure, and the percentage of oxygen in your bloodstream
  • Ventilator tube in your mouth and into your lungs to breathe for you, or an oxygen mask or tube to give you extra oxygen
  • Tubes to drain extra fluid from your chest
  • A tube that goes into your nose and down to your stomach to drain your stomach of excess fluid and gas
  • A catheter in your bladder to drain urine
  • An IV line to provide fluids, electrolytes, and pain medicines directly into a vein

How Long Will It Take?

About 2-4 hours

How Much Will It Hurt?

Anesthesia will block pain during the surgery. The incision in the chest and breastbone will cause pain after the surgery. You will be given pain medicine to help manage the pain.

Average Hospital Stay

The usual length of stay is 5-7 days. The length of stay will depend on your overall health and your recovery progress. Your doctor may choose to keep you longer if complications arise.

Postoperative Care At the Hospital

You will usually be in the intensive care unit for 1-2 days. Then you will be moved to a regular hospital room, where you will stay for several more days. You will be allowed to walk soon after your surgery.

You may be given a device called an incentive spirometer. You will be asked to use it every couple of hours during the day. This helps keep your lungs as open as possible. This can help you avoid pneumonia.

At Home

You can expect to be able to resume your normal activities within about six weeks of surgery. You should follow your doctor's directions regarding when you can begin to drive, exercise, lift things, and otherwise exert yourself.

  • If you have a mechanical valve, you will have to take blood-thinning medicines (anticoagulants) for the rest of your life. They are needed to keep clots from forming around the valve.
  • Depending on the type of valve you have, you will need to take an antibiotic whenever you have dental procedures or certain surgical procedures.
  • Be sure to follow your doctor's instructions .


Learn what Aortic Valve Replacement is
What Is
Learn what the procedure is. Find out how it is performed.
Reasons For Aortic Valve Replacement
Reasons For
Find out why and when this procedure should be done.
Aortic Valve Replacement Complications
Learn about possible complications and what might increase the risk of them.
Aortic Valve Replacement Details
What to Expect
Find out how long it will take, what they will be doing and what to expect afterwards.
Aortic Valve Replacement Results
What are the next steps and other possible tests needed after you have received the results.
When to Contact Doctor about Aortic Valve Replacement
Call Your Doctor
What to look out for and when to call your doctor after a procedure has been done.

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Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright ©2014 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved. Source: EBSCO