“Heart Valve Leakage After Surgery?” Asks Julie

I just received an excellent question from Julie about trace heart valve leakage after surgery.

Julie writes to me, “Hi Adam – My husband, who had mitral valve prolapse surgery on October 31, 2008, went for the annual check-up with his cardiologist. In review of the echocardiogram results, we were told that there was slight leakage in the mitral valve. The cardiologist told us that it was okay. But, when I asked him if the valve could require surgery again, he said that was possible. Do many patients experience heart valve leakage after surgery. Thanks, Julie and Jon!”

I can directly relate to the concern and worry that Julie carries regarding the trace regurgitation in Jon’s mitral valve.

So you know, Dr. Rosin, my cardiologist, told me that I had trace leakage in my aortic valve one year after my Ross Procedure. That news was very, very, very tough to digest.

Why?

Well… As patients, we want the post-operative valve to function perfectly. We want to hear that everything will be okay for the rest of our lives. We want to hear that we are “fixed”.

However, as Dr. Rosin shared the echo results with me, he noted, “Adam, I can see your concern. But, please know this is trace leakage. I would not even go so far as to say it’s mild leakage.”

I started to feel better considering all that I knew about the different classifications of aortic regurgitation.

Dr. Rosin continued, “Just so you know, most people have some form of leakage in their valves. Aortic, tricuspid, pulmonary and mitral leaflets do not always seal perfectly. In my opinion, you are just like everyone else. You are fixed. This is nothing to be concerned about. There is just a little leakage around one of the sutures. This does occur. Everything else in your echo looks great!”

Then, Dr. Rosin looked up at me with a convincing smile and ended our appointment by saying, “Now.. Get out of here! Go have some fun!”

Dr. Ben Rosin and Adam Pick at Torrance Memorial Hospital
Dr. Ben Rosin (My Cardiologist) & Me

So… Is my situation the exact same as Julie’s husband, Jon? The answer to that question is a simple no. All patient cases should be considered unique. However, my gut tells me that if Jon’s echo is only showing trace leakage this is not much to worry about right now.

Could Jon’s valve deteriorate? Yes.

Could my valve calcify? Yes.

Could the Earth stop spinning tomorrow? Yes.

However, current echocardiogram results and celestial data suggests that those things will not happen in the near future.

Remember, heart valve surgery is a medical miracle. Enjoy your “second chance” at life. We are not cats. We do not get nine lives. So, please make the most of this opportunity. As I have learned time-and-time again, worry is a useless attribute.

Keep on tickin!

Adam Pick
Written by Adam Pick

Adam Pick is a patient, author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery and the founder of HeartValveSurgery.com.

To learn how Adam has helped millions of people with heart valve disease, watch Adam's video, subscribe to his free newsletter, or visit his Facebook, or Twitter pages.

  • Dawn

    I have mild leakage after Ross procedure. Wish I did not, but it is what it is. The surgeon (perfectionists that they are) who told me was clearly unhappy. My cardiologist on the other hand not so much. He told me he has ptients he has been following for decades with same who have not had to have surgery. Of course some do progress to that point, but hopefully mine will not. Of course I would have preferred to have been told all was perfect after going through such a big surgery, but I am pretty much accepting of it now. I feel so much better.

  • Stephen Waxman

    I have had two aortic valve replacements. My second operation was 21 years ago. The issue of a slight leakage is something I have been told is very common to valve surgery patients and is generally not a cause for concern. of greater concern to vlalve patients is probably stenosis of the valve which seems to build up over a number of years. I think Adam’s cardiologist was right on when he told him to go out and have fun!!!!. The perfect prescription!!. You will forget about this slight leakage. It is quite normal.

    Stephen Waxman
    Ottawa Canada

  • Mary Ferraro

    Almost a year after my valve got fixed I feel great (inspite of the scar issues). If they have to go in again and fix my valve I am not going to worry so much because I know they are getting better at this stuff all the time. Don’t get me wrong I hope my little leaks stay minor, too. Worry doesn’t help tomorrow, it only steals energy from today. Hope you all can get out and enjoy the beauty of autumn!

  • Elsie

    2 yrs post op (Ross procedure), my daugther has been informed she has mild – moderate pulmonary valve regurgitation. She is dis-traught about this and is worrying I can tell. She has headaches, is tired all the time, and appears to have fluid retention later in the day. The echo is not scheduled for another 3 months from now and I’m so concerned. does anyone know how serious or soon intervention is needed with a mild-moderate leakage?

  • Mia

    Hey I am 20 years old I had valve repair when I was 8 Years old as I was born with aortic stenosis, I changed my valve 6 weeks ago due to my severe leakage… I currently have a mild leak and i want to know will it get worse again like the first time I had surgery?

  • Dalia Blumstein

    Yes, I had a mitral valve repair in Aug, 09. ( my regurg was a 4+ at the time)After the repair there was trace regurg. I just went for my F/U echo the other day ( 2-22-11) and it showed it was 1+. I would like to hear from others who had the same. Dalia

  • Donna Ignelzi

    My husband has been informed that he has moderate leakage following open heart surgery last June to fit a devise for his mitral valve prolapse. He had a routine echo that showed this result. He also has mild to severe fluid retention in one leg. His cardiologist is on vacation for the next two weeks. In your opinion, will he require further surgery? Thank you.

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