In 1961 the first heart replacement valve was successfully implanted. The original ball-and-cage form is no longer being implanted today, but there are many living patients who had the design implanted. Since the first original mechanical heart valve, over 80 models have been developed to match various patient needs. Of those models, there are three basic types in use today.
Bileaflet- A Mechanical Heart Valve
Bileaflet valves are made up of a rigid ring with two hinged semi-circle discs made of bio-neutral, extremely durable materials. The main advantage to this and other types of mechanical heart valves is that it lasts the patient’s lifetime. The valve normally does not wear out or malfunction, reducing the likelihood that the patient will need another operation later to replace a worn-out valve. The con of mechanical valves is that blood tends to clot around the openings, requiring the use of blood thinners for the lifetime of the patient. Luckily the mechanical heart valves have excellent blood flow and few complications.
Like the bileaflet valve, the monoleaflet valve is designed from durable, bio-neutral materials. The monoleaflet valve is composed of a single disc that rotates on a central metal strut. The disc rotates far enough to create openings for the blood to flow through, regulating the pressure and flow. Like the bileaflet valve, monoleaflet implants require the use of blood thinners for the life of the patient, to prevent clots from forming.
The third option is technically not a mechanical heart valve, but rather is adapted from a human or animal donor. The tissue is carefully prepared and treated with chemicals which render it bio-neutral, meaning that the recipient’s body will accept the valve without rejection. Bioprosthetic valves provide a more natural option that don’t require blood thinners, but may not last as long as a mechanical version. When you come in for your consultation, we will discuss your medical history and needs, and decide upon a treatment plan that’s right for you.