The mitral valve controls blood flow through the left side of the heart. When open, it allows blood to flow into the heart's main pumping chamber, the left ventricle. When the left ventricle contracts to push blood through the body, the mitral valve closes to prevent blood from flowing back toward the lungs.
What is Mitral Valve Disease?
Mitral valve disease describes an abnormal or damaged mitral valve. Sometimes the mitral valve is abnormal from birth. It also can become damaged by infection, with age, or from heart disease.
This can lead to subsequent conditions, including prolapse and regurgitation. If the mitral valve leaflets cannot tightly seal the left ventricle, this is called prolapse. Most patients with prolapse do not have a leaky mitral valve and do not require surgery.
Sometimes prolapse causes a severe leak of blood flow back into the atrium. This is called regurgitation. Regurgitation can make the heart work harder, leading to further valve damage and increasing the risk of heart failure. In these cases surgery should be considered.
Treatment for Mitral Valve Disease
The treatment options available to a person with mitral valve disease depend on the severity of the condition. Some patients may not require any intervention. Others may be prescribed medications.
However, if your symptoms become severe, surgery should be considered. This includes.
- If your leak is graded as a 4 (severe) and, in some cases, if your leak is graded as a 3 (moderately severe).
- If you develop symptoms, a decrease in heart function, or an increase in heart size.
- If you develop atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat).
Mitral Valve Surgery
The best available surgical treatment for mitral valve disease is valve repair. Valve repair involves the surgeon reconstructing your valve using your own tissues.
In situations when repair is not possible, valve replacement is an option. Valve replacement involves the surgeon cutting out the damaged valve and replacing it with a new, artificial valve.
Valve repair does offer a number of significant, life-long benefits as compared to valve replacement. These include a lower risk of mortality, a better chance of long-term survival and more freedom from re-operation. For these reasons, cardiac surgeons and their patients opt for repair whenever possible.
Traditional "open heart" surgery involves sternotomy – cutting through the breastbone and opening the ribs. This can cause significant trauma, prolong healing time and increase the risk for serious complications and even mortality. Moreover, an open approach doesn't always provide the visualization and access needed to complete a repair.
Robotic-Assisted Mitral Valve Surgery: A Less Invasive Option
Robotic-assisted valve surgery is an alternative to conventional open heart surgery. When performed robotically with the da Vinci Surgical System, mitral valve surgery is done with unparalleled precision and control through a few small incisions along the side of the chest.
Our Numbers Prove Our Excellence
The surgical team at TriHealth has been providing exceptional care for mitral valve repair patients for over 10 years. Patient outcomes tell the story in this comparison against top-performing, non-robotic peers*.
- 13% less likely to experience a complication
- 0 mortalities
- 49% less time in hospital
- 64% less likely to be readmitted
- 19% lower total costs
*Premier Quality Advisor – CareScience CY14 Top Performing Cohort for all outcomes
Benefits of Robotic-Assisted Mitral Valve Surgery
In addition to avoiding the pain and trauma of sternotomy and rib spreading, this may provide patient benefits such as.
- Less risk of infection
- Less blood loss and need for blood transfusions
- Shorter hospital stay
- Significantly less pain and scarring
- Faster recovery
- Quicker return to normal activities
As with any surgery, these benefits cannot be guaranteed, as surgery is both patient- and procedure-specific. While robotic-assisted mitral valve surgery is considered safe and effective, it may not be appropriate for every individual. Always ask your doctor about all treatment options, as well as their risks and benefits.
Illustrations courtesy of Intuitive Surgical, Inc.