Cardiac surgery has been an independent medical specialty since 1993. It has developed from general surgery, focusing on thoracic and cardiovascular surgery. It deals with the surgical treatment of congenital and acquired diseases and injuries of the heart and the vessels near the heart.
Heart valves are valves that ensure that the blood circulates in our body only in a forward motion. In a heart valve disease, they can either become too narrow (stenosis) or leak (insufficiency). Depending on which heart valve is affected or how the defect presents itself, the valve can be repaired (reconstruction). If recovery is not possible, the diseased heart valve is replaced. The most commonly used heart valve prostheses are either made of biological (animal) material (usually bovine pericardium), so-called biological valves, or resistant material such as titanium or carbon, so-called mechanical heart valve prostheses. Mechanical heart valve prostheses require life-long blood thinning. With biological heart valves, blood thinning is usually only necessary for a short time or not at all. Conventional heart valve surgery is an open heart operation using the heart-lung machine (HLM).