Heart and Vascular Care
Mitral Valve Disease and Surgery
Mitral valve disease is the most common heart valve abnormality and affects 5 to 10 percent of the population. Patients often have no symptoms of the disease, which can lead to heart failure and abnormal heart rhythms if left untreated.
At Sharp Memorial Hospital, we offer several minimally invasive surgical options to repair or replace mitral valves (also known as bicuspid valves) with a faster recovery and less pain than traditional open surgeries.
About mitral valve regurgitation
The most common defect with the mitral valve is when it does not close properly, allowing blood to leak backward into the lungs and cause shortness of breath. This condition is called mitral valve regurgitation. Over time, regurgitation will cause the heart muscle to grow weaker and can lead to congestive heart failure.
What causes mitral valve regurgitation?
Mitral valve regurgitation is often caused by degenerative mitral valve disease, also known as "floppy valve syndrome."
Hallmarks of degenerative mitral valve disease include weakness and a thickening of the heart leaflets and their supporting structures. Other causes of a leaky valve include scarring from rheumatic heart disease, infection of the mitral valve, congenital abnormalities of the mitral valve and a weakened and dilated heart muscle (usually from previous heart attacks) that causes the two mitral leaflets to be pulled apart.
What are the symptoms?
Most people with mitral valve disease have no symptoms, but those who do complain of fatigue, palpitations, chest pain and anxiety.
Mitral valve procedures and surgery options
At Sharp, our expert cardiac specialists perform the following options for mitral valve treatment:
Minimally invasive mitral valve surgery
In minimally invasive mitral valve surgery, the incision is much smaller — about 3 inches instead of the 6 to 8 inches required for traditional cardiac surgery. The surgery can be completed with small incisions through the lower breastbone — which means a shorter healing time and hospital stay, less scarring, reduced pain and a lower chance of infection.
Maze procedure and mitral valve repair
Surgeons perform maze surgery to treat chronic atrial fibrillation (AFib), a fast, irregular heart rhythm where the upper chambers of the heart contract in an uncoordinated fashion. AFib is dangerous because it can cause blood to pool in the upper chambers, leading to blood clots. A stroke can occur if a blood clot travels from the heart and blocks a small artery in the brain.
The procedure typically adds only about 20 to 30 minutes to the surgery and can be effective in eliminating AFib. Many patients who receive both a mitral valve repair and a maze procedure no longer need to take long-term blood-thinning medications.
The mini-maze procedure is often performed on patients suffering from mitral valve disease and AFib. Tiny incisions are created in the chest and an energy source is used to block the arrhythmia's path. This minimally invasive procedure does not require opening the chest, so it has a shorter recovery time than more invasive surgical options.
The MitraClip®procedure is a treatment for patients unable to have open-heart surgery due to age or other medical conditions. The device is inserted through the femoral vein — a blood vessel in the leg — to clip together a portion of the mitral valve, allowing the heart to pump blood more efficiently.
To learn more about heart valve surgery at Sharp Memorial Hospital, send us an email and a cardiac specialist will contact you directly. To learn more about heart valve repair and replacement, read Frequently Asked Questions About Minimally Invasive Heart Valve Repair Surgery.
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