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A Guide to Aortic Root Replacement Surgery

written by: angiem1981 • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 11/28/2010

If your cardiologist has recommended aortic root replacement surgery, there are a few things you may want to learn about the procedure. From the various types of procedures to the duration of recovery, these are both important factors.

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    What is Aortic Root Replacement Surgery?

    As the name implies, the aortic replacement is a surgical procedure used to replace an existing aortic root that has been damaged. There are two main types of this surgical replacement. One utilizes a mechanical aortic root, while the other is biological. The biological replacement comes from either a pig or a cow. There are two methods which may be used. The traditional replacement is rather invasive and is performed in almost the same manner as open heart surgery. Less invasive procedures are now available though and can significantly reduce healing time and post-operative complications, such as infections are also decreased.

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    Why Might Someone Need This Surgery?

    There are a variety of reasons that your cardiologist may feel that you are a good candidate for aortic root replacement. Damage and disease are the most common reasons in most cases though. Initially, the patient may not have any signs or symptoms of disorder of the aortic root; some may never have any complications. However, some individuals can develop stenosis, regurgitation problems and experience other life altering issues. This may include but is not limited to chest pain, heart palpitations, edema and fatigue. Those with more severe symptoms may even experience syncope, also known as fainting and shortness of breath.

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    Duration of Recovery

    The recovery period from aortic root replacement surgery can significantly vary from one patient to the next. The average hospital stay post-operatively will depend on several different factors, including overall health and the client's condition. Other factors that can play a role in recovery are whether or not any other areas of the heart have been affected. It is not uncommon for other segments of the heart and arteries to be reconstructed during root replacement. As a matter of fact, the valves and arteries may commonly sustain damage. Total recovery time may be as much as three months in some cases. However, patients that have the less invasive procedure can generally heal more quickly. In this scenario, some can even go home within two to three days, providing there are no complications and fully recover within four to six weeks.

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    Other Significant Information

    While many patients may elect to have this type of surgery, others may be performed as a result of an emergency. In these cases, the surgical method and recovery time can drastically differ. In addition to this, your age, pre-existing health conditions and other pertinent health facts must be taken into consideration. This is only meant to serve as a general guide and any questions or concerns regarding the surgery should be directed to your cardiologist.

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    Bibliography

    Aortic Root Surgery. Mayo Clinic. 2001-2010. Viewed 26, November 2010. http://www.mayoclinic.org/aortic-root-surgery/types.html

    Aortic Valve Surgery. Cleveland Clinic. 1995-2010. Viewed 26, November 2010. http://my.clevelandclinic.org/heart/disorders/valve/aorticvalvesurgery.aspx

    Thoracic Aortic Disease Program: What to Expect After Surgery. Virginia Commonwealth University. Updated 19, October 2010. Viewed 26, November 2010. http://www.pauleyheart.vcu.edu/clinical/aortic/index6.html