Valvular heart disease often requires surgical intervention in order to prevent ventricular dysfunction and heart failure. Mitral valves that become hardened or stenotic don’t open as wide as they should, don’t close tightly or have completely separated. These stenotic mitral valves must be repaired or replaced to keep the blood flowing in one direction and return the heart to healthy function. Depending on the patient’s condition and symptoms, the GCCSI team will determine if the mitral valve can be repaired or if it must be replaced to return the heart to a healthier form.
Mitral valve repair surgery involves surgically repairing the mitral valve to achieve appropriate physiologic function. Commonly, valve repairs involve removing or reshaping tissue, patching holes or tears in the valve, or separating flaps that have fused together. Another approach involves cutting tissue to let leaflets open or close properly. Our surgeons determine the ideal valve repair approach for each patient based on the patient’s condition, symptoms and health history.
When GCCSI heart surgeons determine that a repair isn’t possible, a mitral valve replacement can be made in most cases. A mitral valve replacement surgery can be done using a bioprosthetic or mechanical valve; the valve material is determined based on each patient’s condition.
A bioprosthetic valve typically comes from cow or pig tissue. Blood does not clot as
easily on tissue valves, so patients may be placed on an anticoagulant medication for a short time. Tissue valves may wear out more quickly than a mechanical valve and will eventually need to be replaced unlike a mechanical valve.
Mechanical valves are made from metal or hard carbon and come in many shapes and sizes. Mechanical valves can last for decades, however, blood tends to stick to them and cause clots. Patients who receive mechanical valves will need to take anticoagulant medication to prevent clots.
GCCSI surgeons are skilled in using minimally invasive techniques for mitral valve repair and replacement. Using minimally invasive techniques for mitral valve repair and mitral valve replacement reduces the size of the surgical scar and potentially reduces post-operative pain, resulting in a shorter recovery period for the patient.
Click the links below for more information about the diagnosis and procedure.
Diagnosis – MV Regurgitation (PDF)
Procedure – MV Replacement (open) (PDF)