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Specialized treatment at the University of Miami includes open-heart valve surgery, conventional and minimally invasive valve replacement, and transcatheter procedures. 

  • Conventional Surgery

    A valve may be replaced either as an open-heart procedure or a minimally invasive procedure with the heart by-passed on the heart-lung machine. Certain patients need the bypass approach, open or minimally invasive.

  • Minimally Invasive Transcatheter Techniques

    Several different options are available depending on your specific situation and can be done without by-pass and sometimes without general anesthesia. Some of the procedures include:

    • Percutaneous balloon valvuloplasty: this is a less invasive procedure that can help relieve the symptoms of valve disorders which involves a small catheter and a balloon that is inflated to stretch the valve opening and allow more blood to flow through it. The balloon is then deflated and guided back through the vessel and removed. The recovery time is considerably shorter than with traditional surgery.
    • TAVR catheter treatment: TAVR is a minimally invasive alternative for patients who are too high risk for traditional aortic replacement surgery. An artificial valve is compressed and fed through the catheter until it reaches the aortic valve. Once in place, a balloon expands the artificial valve and the catheter is removed. Because of the effectiveness of this approach, research is looking at using it for low-risk patients, as well.
    • Mitral clip procedure: For patients with mitral valve regurgitation (or a leaky heart valve), this minimally invasive procedure inserts a mechanical clasp using a catheter that is guided to the chest through the femoral vein. The clamp reduces leakage and associated symptoms of regurgitation.


The physical diagnosis of heart valve disease uses a variety of tests to determine the function of the heart and heart valves. 

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG)

    Wires (electrodes) attached to adhesive pads on your skin measure electrical impulses from your heart. An ECG can detect enlarged chambers of your heart and abnormal heart rhythms.

  • Echocardiogram, both transthoracic and esophageal

    In the transthoracic test, a device (transducer) is pressed firmly against your skin and aims an ultrasound beam through your chest to your heart, producing moving images of the working of the heart. In the esophageal approach, the transducer is fed down through the esophagus into the stomach to capture the ultrasound images to show how the heart is moving with beats.

  • Exercise testing

    Your heart rhythm, blood pressure and breathing may be monitored while you walk on a treadmill so your doctor may evaluate symptoms, determine your exercise capacity, and determine if exercise provokes abnormal heart rhythms; or you may be given medication that simulates the effect of exercise on the heart. 

  • Holter monitor

    You may wear a portable ECG that records your heart's activity continuously over one to two days. This test is often done in people with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

  • Cardiac Computed Tomography (CT) exam

    Used frequently to evaluate valve disease, cardiac CT gives detailed pictures of the actual shape and size of the heart. In some cases, cardiac MRI, which uses magnetic fields and radio waves to create images of your heart, may be useful.

  • Cardiac catheterization

    This procedure uses a catheter threaded through veins into the heart to see inside the heart, measure pressures, look at blood vessels help determine therapy options.