Aortic valve disease is an umbrella term for two conditions, aortic valve stenosis and aortic valve regurgitation, both of which can have severe and life-threatening consequences. It most commonly appears in people between 50 and 70 years old, but sometimes it may not be discovered until after age 70. Other health conditions and age both can impact which treatment options are available to patients. 

Fortunately, advances in heart care have provided highly effective treatments for patients of all ages and those with other health conditions. Georgia Heart Institute’s program offers comprehensive options for aortic valve repair and replacement. Our patients can count on leading expertise on this condition, using the least invasive options available to reduce pain and shorten recovery times.

Robotic aortic valve repair and replacement

Robotic approach for aortic valve surgery is a newer advancement in the field of heart valve surgery than robotic mitral valve repair, but it is emerging as a leading option to reduce pain and long recovery times for patients.

In order to repair or replace a diseased aortic valve, our robotic heart surgeon will make a 30 – 35mm port in the chest, then maneuver an endoscope, the robot and, if needed, a replacement aortic valve to the heart. This approach does not require a sternotomy, which is when the ribcage is opened to give the surgeon access to the heart during open-heart surgery. Having to spread the ribcage adds significantly to the recovery time and also makes recovery more painful.

These procedures must be done by a highly experienced robotic surgery team. That’s what you’ll get with Northeast Georgia Physicians Group Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery, in partnership with Georgia Heart Institute. We take special care to perform the surgery through the smallest incisions possible by using assistive imaging, like a heart ultrasound, to give the surgeon the same ability to view the heart as with open-heart surgery, while gaining incredible precision through robotic assistance.

Open-heart aortic valve repair and replacement

Certain heart anatomies may make robotic-approach heart valve surgery inadvisable or impossible. In those situations, the surgeons of Northeast Georgia Physicians Group offer extensive expertise for open-heart valve surgery.

Our program is built from the ground up to support heart surgery patients through every part of their journey, from comprehensive and multidisciplinary cardiology care and diagnostics to our specialized cardiovascular intensive care unit for patients recovering from heart surgery, to our accredited cardiopulmonary rehabilitation program.

Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR)

For patients with aortic stenosis, a non-surgical, minimally invasive approach to replace the aortic valve has become a leading option. Georgia Heart Institute’s TAVR (transcatheter aortic valve replacement) program performs a high volume of these catheter-based procedures, offering great outcomes to patients across all age groups. If you’re uncertain whether heart valve surgery or TAVR is the right option for you, contact our team today to discuss your options.

The most important thing is simply not to wait. Aortic valve disease can have serious and life-threatening consequences for patients, but there are effective treatment options, including for people of advanced age.

Frequently asked questions

Who should consider aortic valve replacement or repair?

Anyone with aortic valve disease should consider surgery or a TAVR procedure to repair or replace the valve. Given the serious nature of aortic valve disease and how successful these procedures can be, valve repair or replacement can offer the best results for patients both in extending their lives and improving their quality of life.

Robotic surgery and the catheter-based TAVR procedure both offer comparable or better outcomes than open surgery, so they are great options for most patients with aortic stenosis, but especially for those who are elderly or are not candidates for open-heart surgery.

Is it better to repair an aortic valve or replace it?

Repair is usually possible when a person’s heart tissue is not yet too damaged. These are some of the best-case scenarios because preserving a person’s own heart tissue can lead to the best long-term results. A surgeon will recommend valve replacement when the valve is simply too damaged.

How do I know whether open, robotic or catheter-based treatment is right for me?

This is a question best answered between you, your family and your cardiothoracic surgeon. Our team can help perform diagnostics and provide a comprehensive review of your case to determine our best recommendation for a good outcome. We recommend that patients bring family or other loved ones with them to these appointments so they can share information with their surgeon about their lifestyle and goals. This way. we can determine the best treatment option for that particular patient.

How successful is aortic valve surgery?

Success rates for heart valve surgery range between 94% and 97%. Those who have a successful aortic valve repair or replacement have life expectancies in line with those who do not have aortic valve disease. Given how serious aortic valve disease can be, if surgery is recommended, it is typically the best way to extend a patient’s life while also providing relief for their symptoms.

The best indicator of a good outcome is working with an experienced surgeon. Surgical teams who have repaired or replaced many aortic valves will give the best long-term outcomes for patients, so it is important to choose a tenured surgery program.

What is recovery like after an aortic valve surgery?

Open heart surgery typically requires a hospital stay between two and five days for monitoring and recovery after surgery. Once a patient is discharged from the hospital, they can begin cardiopulmonary rehabilitation through our certified program to help them get back on their feet faster. Full rehabilitation from open heart surgery may take from five weeks to three months.

Robotic heart surgery usually requires a two- to three-day hospital stay for monitoring after surgery. Once patients are discharged, it’s still recommended that they participate in cardiopulmonary rehabilitation because of the benefits to their heart and activity levels. However, they will experience less pain and be able to resume day-to-day activities much sooner, sometimes within just a week or two of surgery.

Should I choose a tissue valve or a mechanical valve replacement?

This is a question that is best discussed between you, your family and your heart surgeon. Sometimes, using a tissue valve replacement will enable a patient to go off their blood thinner medication. For some patients, blood thinners can cause significant issues or side effects, especially if they have other conditions that impact their balance or make them likely to fall.

Mechanical valve replacements usually require the continued use of blood thinners, but they last longer, which is especially important if the replacement is for a younger patient. Mechanical valves reduce the likelihood that a patient will need to replace their heart valve again in their lifetime.

Connect with our program


Referrals are required for surgical services, but our knowledgeable team is always happy to answer your questions and provide next steps. Call 770-219-7099 to discuss your surgery with our team.

Referring Clinicians

If you are a clinician who needs to refer a patient for cardiothoracic surgery, please contact our program directly at 770-219-7099. Our program coordinator can answer any questions you have and help schedule your patient to see one of our board-certified cardiothoracic surgeons.