ANTONIA REEVE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY ANTONIA REEVE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Heart valve surgery. Surgeon with a balloon valve during heartport heart valve replacement surgery. The balloon is mounted on a guide tube. Soft tissue retractors are holding open a hole in the chest. Heartport surgery is a type of keyhole (minimally-invasive) surgery. It is less traumatic than open heart surgery, where the sternum is sawn open. The balloon will be deflated and inserted into an artery in the patient's groin and guided into position in the aorta just outside the heart. It will be inflated to stop blood flow and allow a heart-lung machine to take over during surgery. The heart valves prevent the backflow of blood in the heart. Damage to the valves can lead to malfunctioning of the heart and death.
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