You may have heard the news that comedian and actor Robin Williams needs to have heart surgery. He reportedly will have aortic valve replacement to fix his left semilunar valve, known more commonly as the aortic valve or aortic semilunar valve. Valve replacement is commonly performed to fix aortic stenosis when the valve opening becomes narrowed. Stenosis of the aortic valve limits the pumping action of the left ventricle and can lead to low exercise tolerance and also left ventricular enlargement. Another less common issue is aortic valve insufficiency when the valve is leaky. This can lead to backflow or regurgitation of blood into the ventricle from the aorta. Options to fix the aortic valve include repair of the valve leaflets or total replacement using an artificial valve (mechanical) or bioprosthetic valve (biological) derived from cadaver, porcine (pig) or bovine (cow) tissues. You can read more about aortic valve replacement at WebMD (link) and watch a webcast of a minimally invasive aortic valve replacement at OR-live (link).
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