Aortic regurgitation surgery may be necessary if heart valve leakage occurs and the pressure in the system cannot be maintained.
The aortic valve is made up of three leaflets and the valve leaks either because the leaflets have given way or because the circular ring to which their bases are attached has stretched (they open and close beautifully but they do not meet in the middle).
There are several diverse causes of aortic valve regurgitation. The effect on the heart is that after each beat it fills via the normal route and it also has to accommodate a volume of blood it thought it had just seen the back of!
Surprisingly the heart often copes well with leaky aortic valves as long as the leak develops and worsens very slowly.
Patients who need aortic regurgitation surgery have often had a leaking heart valve for ten to 20 years.
The opposite is also true; if a heart valve develops a significant leak quickly then patients can become very ill acutely. The load on the heart in this setting is of volume and it fails when it cannot cope with the amount of blood being delivered to it.