A small guide to valve replacement surgery in India

A valve replacement surgery is a procedure that is recommended if there is damage or a problem with the aortic valve. The doctor replaces the valve’s damaged section with either a synthetic or mechanical valve or a human donor, or even a tissue valved taken from a cow or pig through this surgery. This procedure helps to ease symptoms or relieve the strain that causes chest pain or breathlessness due to angina. The valve replacement surgery cost in India differs based on the kind of surgery needed, the extent of the damage, and other such factors.

Factors that determine if a person is an ideal candidate for a Valve Replacement Surgery

The doctor would consider you as an ideal candidate for a valve replacement surgery if you

  • Have been diagnosed with stenosis (narrowing of the valve), regurgitation ( a leaking valve), or cardiac symptoms like symptoms of heart failure, fainting spells (syncope), shortness of breath, or chest pain(angina).
  • You may also be an ideal candidate even if you do not have severe cardiac symptoms. However, your test results show that you are at the beginning stages of developing medical conditions like regurgitation or valve stenosis or any other such disorder that affects the heart’s functionality.
  • Even people who have developed an infection of the heart valve AKA endocarditis are considered ideal candidates. It is also recommended for those undergoing treatment for the same and does not show any or little improvement signs.
  • Heart valve surgery may also be recommended for people who have to replace their prosthetic heart valves because of malfunctioning or leakage. They stand a chance of developing some infection or blood clots.

What is the Diagnosis for Valve Replacement Surgery?

The doctor or specialist may conduct the following tests to diagnose or understand various kinds of valve diseases. These tests include

  • Echocardiography
  • Transesophageal echocardiography
  • Cardiac catheterization (also called an angiogram)
  • Radionuclide scans
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

What are the benefits of Valve Replacement Surgery?

The Valve replacement surgery helps to

  • Improve the quality of life
  • Prolonged and healthy life
  • Reduced symptoms or treat medical conditions permanently.

What is the Cost of Valve Replacement Surgery in India?

The valve replacement surgery cost in India can be around INR Two lakhs, based on factors like

  • The type of hospital the patient chooses
  • The specialist’s consultation fees or charges for the operation
  • The hospital fees, including bed charges and other such facilities and services
  • The pre and post-operative care needed.
  • Supporting medicines or supplements and so on.
  • The various taxes that are applicable while paying the final amount.

Heart Valve Surgery in India is considered to be one of the most popular surgical procedures. Amongst the various reasons people consider India for such a surgical procedure is that it is economically priced because of the exchange or conversion rate. Moreover, they also get quality services and facilities at par with countries like the US and UK within their budget.

Best Type For You

Mechanical valve: Pros and cons

Mechanical valves are made of carbon and metal and make a slight clicking sound that patients may hear — although some do not hear it at all. Their design mimics the leaflets of a natural valve. They are the type that surgeons most often implant in young patients and typically can last between 20 and 30 years without requiring additional surgeries.

Dr. Svensson says mechanical valves are best for those who:

  • Are younger than age 65 who want to avoid a second surgery when they are older.
    Have overactive parathyroid glands (affecting blood calcium levels).
  • The downside is that mechanical valves can have blood clots form on them. To reduce this risk, you’ll need to take a blood thinner for the rest of your life, which increases the risk of bleeding.

Ongoing research is focused on finding alternatives to current blood thinners, Dr. Svensson says. Newer, carbon-based mechanical valves may reduce the need for a daily blood thinner as well, he says.

Biological valve: Pros and cons

Biological valves, also known as bioprosthetic valves, come from cows or pigs in most cases. Doctors use human donor valves only rarely.

Typically, biological valves last between 10 and 15 years, so you may require another replacement surgery at some point.

They don’t come with a higher risk of blood clots, so you most likely won’t need to take a blood thinner.

Biological valves are best, Dr. Svensson says, for those who:

  • Are over age 65.
  • Have kidney disease.
  • Are pregnant.
  • Cannot take Coumadin®.
  • Have a job or recreational sport or hobby that increases the risk for bleeding or injury.

Types of biological valves include:

Bovine (cow). This type is not an actual valve. Rather, it comes from tissue surrounding the cow’s heart. The tissue is strong and flexible, and treating it prior to surgery prepares it so that your body can accept it without any negative immune response. Cow valves can develop calcification that can narrow the valve opening and decrease blood flow over time.

Porcine (pig). These valves are actual pig heart valves, and they’re also treated to avoid rejection from your body. They perform similarly to cow valves, but they are less likely to calcify but are more likely to tear over time.

Human. This is the least common replacement valve. It is generally reserved for patients who have a disease that affects their valves, such as infective endocarditis. Human valve replacements are associated with severe calcification of the donor aortic wall over time, which increases the potential need for subsequent surgery.

Biological valves and pregnancy

Biological valves are best for you if you’re pregnant because of safety during pregnancy, but it’s likely they’ll need to be exchanged later, Dr. Svensson says.

On the other hand, using a mechanical valve could elevate your risk during pregnancy, requiring you to take blood thinners; research shows that blood thinners can harm a fetus.

“If a woman is pregnant, our advice is to use a biological valve,” Dr. Svensson says. “It’s a good idea for her child-bearing years, and then she can make a decision later — if the biological one fails — to switch to mechanical.”

If you need a replacement valve, work closely with your doctor. He or she can consider your preferences and health history as you carefully weighing the options.

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