What is valve repair or replacement?

Our specialist cardiologists and cardiac surgeons can use innovative techniques to treat damaged or diseased heart valves in private patients.

There are four valves in the heart and each is responsible for pumping blood in the right direction around the body. When the valves fail to open properly, they can obstruct blood flow. This is known as valve narrowing or stenosis. When they fail to close properly, blood can leak backwards. This is called leaky valve or regurgitation.

Depending on the extent of damage to the valve and the affect it is having on the heart, the valve can be repaired or replaced:

Valve repair

A repair is usually used on mitral valves that leak, but are not severely damaged.

Valve replacement

A replacement involves removing the diseased valve and replacing it with a mechanical valve or animal tissue valve.

Treatments for valve repair or replacement

Royal Brompton & Harefield Hospitals Specialist Care offers the following heart valve repair and replacement procedures to private patients.

Mitral valve surgery

Mitral valve surgery is performed to treat stenosis (narrowing) or regurgitation (leakage) of the mitral valve. We offer minimally invasive mitral valve surgery to eligible patients. This can help to reduce pain, scarring and recovery time.

Minimally invasive mitral valve surgery

  • This involves using specially-designed telescopic instruments to perform the operation via a small incision on the right side of the chest.

  • It may be necessary to make another small incision in the groin to allow the placement of a tube (cannula) to control the blood flow to the heart during the operation.

  • The typical hospital stay following mitral valve surgery is 7 to 10 days.


  • To treat mitral regurgitation, the mitral valve can be repaired with a MitraClip.
  • It is a transcatheter procedure, whereby the heart is accessed by inserting a catheter (a thin, flexible tube) into a vein leading from the leg to the heart.
  • The benefits of this procedure include an improvement of symptoms such as heart failure and shortness of breath, caused by mitral regurgitation or stenosis. 
  • The hospital stay following the MitraClip tends to be around 3 days. The recovery time is quicker than mitral valve surgery.

Aortic valve surgery

Transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI)

  • This procedure involves inserting an artificial heart valve inside the narrowed aortic valve using a catheter.
  • The valve consists of a metal frame (stent) and the outer lining of a cow’s heart. The stent, with the valve inside, is inserted into your body through a catheter which leads to the heart via an vein either in your leg, arm or chest.
  • The cardiologist will then expand the new valve open inside your aortic valve, using both x-ray and transesophageal imaging for guidance. Your old valve will therefore not be removed but will be used to anchor the new valve in place.
  • After the procedure, you will be taken to the intensive care unit or the recovery unit for observation. Length of hospital stay is usually 1-2 weeks.

Risks of treatment

As with any operation or cardiac procedure, there is a degree of risk in treating valvular heart disease with a valve repair or replacement.

There is a small risk of stroke, kidney disease, bleeding and sternal wound infection. There is also a risk of developing atrial fibrillation - a type of heart rhythm in which the heart beats quickly and irregularly.

Fixed price packages for self-funders

If you prefer to pay for your own inpatient treatment, we offer fixed price packages to help manage the cost of surgery and care while in hospital. As the treatment needs vary from patient to patient, you will need to provide an up-to-date medical report or referral to be reviewed by the agreed consultant.

A complimentary consultation to review this report and any test results you have can be arranged. This will determine whether you are eligible for our fixed package price.

Find out more about fixed price packages