MARTIN DOHRN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY. MARTIN DOHRN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY.
Surgery to replace a damaged mitral heart valve with an artificial (prosthetic) valve. The valve has been fitted and the surgeons are putting tubes for mediastinal and pericardial chest drains in place prior to closing the chest. The mitral valve divides the left atrium from the left ventricle, allowing blood to pass from atrium to ventricle but preventing a reverse flow. Damage to the valve occurs as mitral incompetence (where the valve fails to close properly) or as mitral stenosis, the narrowing of the valve opening. Such a condition may arise as a result of rheumatic fever or a heart attack.
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