ANTONIA REEVE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY ANTONIA REEVE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Heart valve surgery. Surgeon preparing a balloon valve before use in heart valve replacement surgery. The balloon is mounted on its catheter (guide tube). The balloon will be deflated and inserted into the femoral artery in the patient's groin and guided to a position in the aorta just outside the heart. The balloon will then be inflated to block the blood flow and allow a heart-lung machine to take over from the heart while valve replacement surgery takes place. There are four valves in the human heart, all of which prevent the backflow of blood. Damage to the valves can lead to malfunctioning of the heart and death. If a valve cannot be repaired it must be replaced.
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