CNRI / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY CNRI / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Replacement heart valve. Gross clinical specimen of a heart with an artificial heart valve (white, centre right). This is a Starr valve, and has replaced the mitral valve, a one-way valve that allows blood to flow only from the left atrium to the left ventricle. The left ventricle is the chamber that pumps blood around the body. A valve is replaced if it becomes incompetent (it fails to prevent back-flow) or narrowed (stenosis). Valve replacement is a major surgical operation in which the patient is placed on a heart-lung machine for several hours. After the operation the patient must take anticoagulant drugs for life to stop clots forming on the valve.
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