Surgical Aortic Valve Replacement (SAVR)

Surgical aortic valve replacement (SAVR) is the treatment of choice for many patients diagnosed with severe aortic stenosis. The University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center team performs more SAVR procedures than any other hospital in the state.

Other, less invasive options for aortic valve replacement using a catheter procedure are available for certain patients, but surgical replacement of the aortic valve is often the most appropriate and safest procedure for some.

The Frankel CVC team considers the type of aortic disease a patient is suffering from as well the patient’s overall health in determining the most appropriate surgical procedure. This may include open heart surgery with a standard type of incision, or open heart surgery in which a smaller incision is made. In both procedures, the diseased valve is removed and the patient is implanted with a replacement valve.

A patient may need aortic valve surgery to replace the aortic valve in the heart if he or she is diagnosed with:

  • Aortic stenosis, a condition in which the aortic valve does not open fully, resulting in reduced blood flow out of the heart.
  • Aortic regurgitation, a condition in which the aortic valve does not close all the way, resulting in blood leaking back into the heart.

What Is Involved in a SAVR Procedure?

A SAVR procedure requires general anesthetic (the patient is asleep during the operation). During the procedure, an incision is made in the chest to access the heart. The length and location of the incision may vary depending on the type of surgical approach selected for the patient.

The heart is then stopped and a heart-lung (bypass) machine takes over the job of the heart during the operation. The diseased aortic valve is removed and replaced with a new valve. The heart is restarted and the opening in the chest is closed.

Like any type of major surgery, the SAVR procedure carries the risk of complications, including:

  • Infection
  • Blood clots
  • Stroke
  • Irregular heartbeats 

Make an Appointment

To schedule an appointment to discuss surgical aortic valve replacement or any other cardiovascular condition or treatment, contact the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Call Center at 888-287-1082 or visit our Make a Cardiovascular Appointment page, where you can learn what to expect when you call us.