Valve Sparing or Valve Preserving Surgery (Reimplantation Surgery)
The reimplantation valve-sparing aortic root replacement method is a surgical treatment for aortic root aneurysms. With this method, the aneurysm is repaired while the patient's own aortic valve is preserved. This method helps to avoid the use of long-term anticoagulant (blood-thinner) medication and may reduce the risk of stroke or endocarditis.
If the patient's own aortic valve is diseased or cannot be used during the aorta surgery, a bioprosthetic valve can be used to avoid the use of long-term anticoagulation.
While the Reimplantation valve-sparing aortic root replacement method has many benefits, it is also a technically difficult aorta surgery procedure. Dr. Lars G. Svensson, Chairman, Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute has developed a procedure to determine the appropriately sized aorta graft, maintain the left ventricular outflow tract (the passageway out of the left ventricle), and improve outcomes when using the valve-sparing method.
Two options for incisions for this method of surgery to treat and connective disorders affecting the aortic root.
- Traditional : 8 - 12 inch incision for the reimplantation surgery
- In select cases, minimally invasive skin incisions
The goal is to limit incision size.
The aorta is cut, just above the aortic valve annulus and the coronary ostia (openings where the coronary arteries are attached to the aortic root). The diseased portion of aorta is removed.
Sutures are placed just below the aortic valve, around the left ventricular outflow tract.
A collagen-coated, polyester graft is used for the portion of the aorta being replaced.
Sutures are placed through the graft.
A special piece of equipment, called a Hegar's dilator, is placed in the left ventricular outflow tract, through the aortic valve. The size of the dilator is based on the patient's body size and the expected size of a normal left ventricle outflow tract.
The sutures are then tied around the dilator, to shape the bottom portion of the aorta graft, similar to a natural aortic root.
Next, the aortic valve is re-implanted into position within the aorta graft. The valve is tested to make sure it opens and closes properly.
Then, small holes are produced in the aorta graft for the coronary ostia (openings). The coronary arteries are re-attached through the small holes.
The graft is then sewn to the aorta. If the aortic arch needs to be replaced, a separate graft is sewn from the aortic arch to the aortic root graft (as illustrated).
The Reimplantation Surgery approach is a successful approach to aortic valve sparing surgery. With this procedure, the outflow tract size is maintained, a more normal aortic root is established, and valve function is improved.
What is the aortic root?
The aortic root is the section of the aorta (the large artery leaving the heart) that is attached to the heart. The aortic root includes the annulus (tough, fibrous ring) and leaflets of the aortic valve; and the openings where the coronary arteries attach (coronary ostia).
Illustration of aortic root aneurysm before aorta surgery
What is an aortic root aneurysm?
An aneurysm is an abnormal bulge in the wall of a blood vessel. In some patients, an aneurysm can occur at the aortic root, causing the aorta to dilate or widen and the aortic valve to leak.
Without treatment, a life-threatening condition called aneurysm dissection can occur. In this condition, blood flows through a tear in the inner layer of the aorta, causing the layers to separate. Blood flow becomes interrupted and causes the arterial wall to burst.