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“How Will My Heart Valve Replacement Be Measured?” Asks Kate

Posted by Adam Pick on September 11th, 2010

I just received a great question from Kate about heart valve replacement surgery.

Kate writes, “Hi Adam, I’m going in for surgery next week and I have a quick, follow-up question about the size of a heart valve replacement. It might sound silly, but… During the operation, how will the surgeon measure my valve? Do they have some kind of sterile tape measure? Thanks, Kate”

While we might think that a “surgical tape measure” would determine the diameter of the mechanical or bioprosthetic replacement valve, the reality is a bit different.

A special tool, known as a heart valve sizer, is used to determine the size (diameter, surface area) of the heart valve replacement. This unique device has multiple attachments that are lowered into the heart until a match is found.

Then, the new valve is stitched into the heart using sutures — as shown below.

Valve Replacement Being Sutured Into Heart - Diagram

Considering our bodies, hearts and heart valves are all different sizes, the heart valve sizer usually comes in a kit. Below, you will find a heart valve sizer kit offered by Medtronic, one of the leading heart valve manufacturers.

Valve Replacement Sizer Kits

I hope that helps Kate (and perhaps you) learn how heart valve replacements are measured and implanted during surgery.

Keep on tickin!

Adam Pick
Written by Adam Pick A dad, a husband and a patient, Adam Pick founded this website in 2006 to educate you about heart valve surgery from diagnosis to recovery.
You can get the latest updates about heart valve surgery from Adam at his Facebook, and Twitter pages. Click here to email him.


anon says on September 11th, 2010 at 12:06 pm

This is actually a very good question, and Kate should speak with her surgeon about it. I had to have my Ross partially redone within a year because the pulmonary valve replacement was too small.

That wasn’t fun.


Jim Hilbe says on September 11th, 2010 at 2:46 pm

The operation report from my wife’s aortic valve replacement begins with “we sized it; an Edwards Magna 21 was a perfect fit”.

Jim Hilbe


Nan Sanderson says on September 15th, 2010 at 5:41 pm

Is a pig valve superior to an artificial one? Are the pig valves from young and strong specimans?


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