What is valve sparing aneurysm repair?

Surgeons can repair abdominal aortic aneurysms without replacing the aorta’s natural valves. In the past, patients with enlarged abdominal aortas had only one option for treatment – replacing the aorta with an artificial graft and replacing the valve. Even if the valve was functional, physicians didn’t have the technology to preserve the valve and all patients required valve replacement. Mechanical valves are durable, but patients have to take anticoagulants for the rest of their lives. These anticoagulants are associated with a 1%-2% risk per year of major bleeding or clotting complication. Bioprosthetic valves may also be used but need to be replaced after approximately 10-15 years.

With the valve sparing procedure, the aneurysm is repaired while the patient’s aortic valve is kept (although it may be repaired and reimplanted) and reconnected to a new section of aortic tissue. Having the option of leaving the valve in place allows physicians to intervene earlier when the aorta is smaller in diameter. The procedure eliminates the risk of an aneurysm rupture or dissection without need for anticoagulants or reoperation. 

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