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Is it necessary to undergo surgery for a bicuspid aortic valve?

Q: I am 39 years old. I am a non-smoker and in fair shape. I was born with a heart murmur. Recently I was told by my cardiologist that I have a bicuspid aortic valve and will need a valve replacement surgery if the symptoms worsen. Is it possible to have a minimal invasive surgery to replace this aortic valve? Is it absolutely necessary to cut my sternum wide open? What other options do I have, since I don't want to have a scar on my chest?

A:Right at the outset, let me point out that bicuspid aortic valve does not always need surgery. There are few people who continue to lead a totally normal life with bicuspid aortic valve and never need surgery. However, in certain patients the valve degenerates over a period of time and becomes narrowed in which case, surgical intervention is called for. Regarding your query about minimally invasive surgery, certainly aortic valve can be replaced using a small incision and without cutting the sternum wide open. It can be done through partial sternotomy and a 2-2-1/2 inch long incision. Also the cut is so placed that it does not show itself and therefore I don't think, you need to worry on that account.


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