Before going ahead with heart valve replacement, there are certain questions you need to ask. If in doubt, consider getting a second opinion.
Make sure you fully understand the procedure; don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s imperative your surgeon explains the common risks and benefits, as well as those particular to your circumstances. Knowing all the relevant information is part of informed clinical consent.
Questions for your surgeon
- Is this procedure really needed at this time or can it wait?
- What are the likely consequences if I delay it?
- Are there alternatives to this procedure in my case?
- What are the benefits of having the procedure?
- What type of heart valve do you recommend, and why?
- How long should the heart valve last?
- What type of surgery do you recommend, open or minimally invasive?
- What happens during and after the procedure?
- Is there anything I can do to improve the outcome?
- What are your likely out-of-pocket medical expenses? (Your surgeon should be able to give you a breakdown of any costs you’ll incur – this is known as ‘Informed Financial Consent’) Learn about the costs
- Will there be additional fees for blood tests and x-rays?
- Will there be an extra fee for a physiotherapist?
- Will there be an extra fee for a perfusionist? (The specialist who operates the heart-lung machine)
- Will I have a choice of anaesthetist?
- Will I be able to meet with my anaesthetist before the day of surgery?
- Will there be an additional fee for the anaesthetist? If so, what will it be?
- How should I prepare for my procedure?
- Can I donate my own blood several weeks pre-operatively to be re-transfused post-surgery?
- How many heart valve replacement surgeries do you perform each year?
- What percentage of patients are satisfied with the results of the heart valve replacement surgeries you perform?
- What’s your complication rate for this procedure?
- How long will I be in hospital?
- How soon can I go back to work or travel?
- Will I need to change my diet?
- If the valve fails, how will I know?
- Will I need to take blood-thinning medications and if so, for how long?
- What other medications will I need to take?
- Follow-up appointments (Write down any questions or concerns you want to discuss with your surgeon).
Tell your surgeon if you have any skin lesions, sores, cuts, or a raised temperature, as they’ll need to be treated before your procedure.
You can take most medication as usual, but some may interfere with your procedure. Your surgeon will let you know which medication (if any) you should stop, and when to stop taking it.
Don’t forget to mention any complementary or herbal remedies you’re taking, as these can have interactions and side effects too.
Print out this page to take to your appointment with your surgeon.