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Questions and Answers – Heart Valve Replacement (surgical)

Should I get a mechanical valve or a tissue valve?

There are advantages and disadvantages with either choice. Your doctor can provide more details. A mechanical valve lasts longer than a tissue valve, but you'll have to be on blood-thinning medication for the rest of your life to reduce the risk of clots. The main advantage of a tissue valve is that it does not typically require this.

You and your doctor together will decide which option is best for you.

How long will my heart valve last?

Mechanical valves in some patients have lasted as long as 25 years without problems.1 So, it is possible that your new artificial valve could last for the rest of your life. But in some cases, a valve has to be replaced within a matter of years or months, for a number of reasons.

Mechanical valves are more resistant to the constant demands on them, such as opening and closing each time your heart beats. The materials used in mechanical valves stand up well to this wear and tear.

Tissue valves don't tend to last as long as mechanical valves. They can tear and leak over time. Tissue valves usually have to be replaced after about 10 to 15 years,2 or more often in younger patients or children who may have outgrown their valves.

Fortunately, tissue valves wear out slowly so you and your doctor have time to plan for a new operation, if it is necessary.

Will my new valve need special care?

Let your other doctors and your dentist know that you've had heart valve surgery. Ask whether you should take antibiotics before surgical or dental procedures to help prevent valve infections.

Will a mechanical heart valve set off airport security?

No. Airport security systems have no effect on replacement valves. They are not likely to activate airport security alarms, depending on the sensitivity of the security settings.
Learn More: Transportation Safety Administration Website.

Is it safe to have an x-ray after heart valve replacement?

All replacement heart valves are completely safe with x-ray examinations.

Is it safe to have a magnetic resonance imaging scan after heart valve replacement?

Our replacement heart valves have been tested and found to be safe during a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. Contact Medtronic LifeLine CardioVascular Technical Support for more detailed information.

References

  1. Butchart EG, Hui-Hua L, Payne N, et al. Twenty years' experience with Medtronic Hall valve. J.Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2001; 121:1090-100.
  2. Mosaic® Bioprosthesis: Ten year clinical update. ©Medtronic, Inc. 2007

Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.

Last updated: 20 Nov 2013

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