Heart Valve Replacement: Mechanical Vs. Biological

If you or a loved one is researching heart valve replacement there are a few different things you need to know about your valve options. Heart surgeons use two types, biological and mechanical valves. There are pros and cons to both mechanical and biological heart valve prosthesis. In order to make an informed decision, please read the following simplified details about each of your options. To learn more and to get an in-depth consultation with expert heart surgeon Dr. Ciuffo – contact us online or call (330) 588-4676.

Dr. Ciuffo replaces heart valves with minimally invasive techniques involving a 2″ incision on the ribs or under the breast. It is important to understand fully your options and how it would affect your life so do not be shy about asking questions and making sure you completely understand. For our diagnosis and treatment of patients we consider age, lifestyle, potential future pregnancies, other medical conditions before making a recommendation.

pig - biological heart valve replacement

Biological heart valve from a pig

Biological Heart Valve

Biological valves are made with the valves and tissues derived from animals or human donors.


  • Do not cause blood clotting on their surface, so there is no need coumadin (blood thinner) therapy
  • Replicate the form and function of the normal human valve
  • Treated with special chemicals that delay calcification/stiffening


  • Deteriorate faster in younger patients, so they may need to be replaced


mechanical heart valve replacementMechanical Heart Valve

Mechanical valves are exactly what it sounds like, an artificial tool with a valve mechanism, shown on the right.


  • Lasts for a virtually unlimited time, so there is not typically need for replacement


  • Risk of bleeding/clotting, so life-long coumadin therapy is needed
  • Risks and disadvantages associated with blood thinning therapy (damage to fetuses, frequent testing, risk serious bleeding)
  • Higher complication rate

What Would Dr. Ciuffo Choose For Himself?

I am in my early fifties, I have a physically demanding job, I enjoy traveling and sport activities. I don’t want any changes or limitations to my life style. The prospect of coumadin therapy for the next few decades and the higher risk of a stroke or a cerebral hemorrhage scares me a lot more than the prospect of a redo operation 10 to 15 years later in the hands of an expert surgeon. I would definitely choose a biological valve for myself and seek a minimally invasive approach.” -Dr. Ciuffo.

Read more about Dr. Ciuffo’s thoughts on the difference between mechanical and biological heart valves.


A picture of Giovanni B. Ciuffo, MD wearing his Mercy One doctor attire.

About the Author

Giovanni B. Ciuffo, MD Director is an expert in Minimally Invasive Heart Surgery and Bloodless Heart Surgery is the outcome of his commitment to the development and improvement of both of these techniques. He runs a Cardiothoracic Surgery practice and manages Minimally Invasive and Bloodless Heart Surgery Program where he cares for patients from all over the country and locally. Click here to learn more about Dr. Ciuffo.

Board Certified:
American Board of Surgery
American Board of Thoracic Surgery