Mitral Valve Repair
Mitral valve repair is an open heart procedure performed by cardiothoracic surgeons to treat stenosis (narrowing) or regurgitation (leakage) of the mitral valve. The mitral valve is the "inflow valve" for the left side of the heart. Blood flows from the lungs, where it picks up oxygen and into the left atrium. When it opens, the mitral valve allows blood to flow from the left atrium to the heart's main pumping chamber called the left ventricle. It then closes to keep blood from leaking back into the lungs when the ventricle contracts (squeezes) to push blood out to the body. It has two flaps, or leaflets.
The mitral valve can be abnormal from birth (congenital), but more often the mitral valve becomes abnormal with age (degenerative) or as a result of rheumatic fever. In rare instances the mitral valve can be destroyed by infection or a bacterial endocarditis. Mitral regurgitation may also occur as a result of ischemic heart disease (coronary artery disease).
The decision between repairing or replacing the valve depends on the type of damage to the mitral valve. For instance, repair is more successful if there is limited damage to certain areas of the mitral valve flaps (leaflets) or to the tough fibers that control movement of the mitral valve leaflets (chordae tendineae). But replacement is usually preferred for people who have a hard, calcified mitral valve ring (annulus) or widespread damage to the valve and surrounding tissue
To repair the heart valve, the surgeon may:
- Reshape the valve by removing excess valve tissue
- Add support to the valve ring by adding tissue or a collar-shaped structure around the base of the valve
- Attach the valve to nearby cordlike heart tissues (chordal transposition)