The aorta is a major blood vessel responsible for distributing oxygenated blood to your entire body. Within the aorta is a valve which prevents blood going back towards the heart. It is made up of either 2 or 3 “leaflets” which are very thin which are responsible for coming together & forming a seal to prevent this backflow. This valve can degenerate with time & leak, & / or form calcium deposits on the leaflets. This therefore stops the valve from opening & closing properly to allow blood to flow through.
Through a midline incision on your chest & opening of the breastbone (sternum) the aortic valve can be reached & either pushed open permanently or cut out, & an artificial valve sewn in.
The valve can either be mechanical (synthetic) or tissue (human or animal). If a mechanical valve is used you will be required to take blood thinners for the rest of your life. If a tissue valve is used it will need replacing in time, anytime from 8 years onwards.