Our surgeons have a long history of expertise and excellence in mitral valve repair that began in the 1990s. In fact, many techniques of valve repair were developed here at UVA.
The mitral valve is located between the main pumping chamber of the heart, the left ventricle and left atrium. The mitral valve commonly leaks or experiences mitral regurgitation, which results in a large amount of blood leaking backwards from the heart into the lungs.
Less commonly, the mitral valve can become narrowed or stenotic, which limits blood flow from the lungs into the heart.
Symptoms of Mitral Valve Disease
Mitral valve disease can be asymptomatic and is often identified as a “heart murmur” by your doctor. Symptoms may include:
- Heart failure
- Shortness of breath
Mitral valve disease can lead to an irregular heart beat or atrial fibrillation. It can also be attributed to causes, such as:
- Myxomatous degeneration
- Heart attack
- A weak and dilated heart from rheumatic disease
How is Mitral Valve Disease Treated?
Surgery aims to repair the valve with your own valve and not a replacement.
At UVA, we repair 90% to 95% of mitral valves caused by degenerative disease or ischemic disease. We're involved in multiple clinical trials designed to treat the mitral valve through the National Institutes of Health.
Transcatheter Mitral Valve Repair
Our cardiologists and surgeons are pioneers in the development of transcatheter mitral valve repair using a small clip-like device. A surgeon implants the device through a catheter that's inserted into a leg vein and advanced into the heart. Ultrasound guides the device to the mitral valve leak for to repair.
This procedure can be done without stopping the heart and without a incision on the chest.
Our preferred approach is to repair the mitral valve. But this is not possible in some cases. Instead, we replace the mitral valve with a bioprosthetic or a mechanical valve. Bioprosthetic valves can last 10-15 years and only require aspirin, while mechanical valves potentially last your entire life but require a strong blood thinner.
Minimally Invasive Operation
We perform minimally invasive procedures either through a partial opening of the breast bone or through a 2-3 inch small incision on the right chest between the ribs without cutting the sternum. 3-D echocardiography allows us to understand why the valve is leaking, how we should repair the valve and how successful the repair is before you leave the operating room.
Our cardiac surgeons and cardiologists now perform mitral valve repair surgery percutaneously in high-risk patients. Through a small incision in the groin, a small clip is advanced into the heart to repair the leaky mitral valve. This is done without stopping the heart and without an incision on the chest.
Our surgeons also have expertise in atrial fibrillation treatment during mitral valve surgery.
An addition to other procedures, like coronary artery bypass grafting, this operation is performed through a full sternotomy through an opening in the breast bone.