Mitral Valve Repair/Replacement
The mitral valve is one of four main valves in the heart, located in the upper chamber. The function of a heart valve is to pass blood through the heart in a single continuous direction, and the four valves function together to prevent blood from flowing backward. An irregularity or malfunction in any of these valves can cause a potentially life-threatening valve disease that requires surgical intervention. There are several methods of treatment methods for mitral valve replacement or repair, including:
- Mitral valve repair — usually performed upon a leaking mitral valve or stenotic (narrow) mitral valve. Depending on the condition of the valve, there are several types of surgery options. The benefits of repair surgery include an improved life expectancy, decreased chances of requiring anticoagulation or blood thinners, and the restoration of healthy heart function.
- Mitral valve replacement — when a more intensive surgery is required, patients may need to undergo a valve replacement to restore functionality of the valve system. During this procedure, the impaired valve will be replaced with a new one — either mechanical or organic — made from materials which are tolerated by the body.
- Video assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) — The advancement of surgical techniques have provided more accurate tools and methods that result in minimal scarring. These improvements also reduce the risk of infection or other reaction to surgery. VATS uses a small microscope camera to look inside the body through a tiny incision, usually near the rib cage. The surgeon utilizes small instruments to navigate through the chest. There are several advantages to VATS, including:
- Patients can resume normal work and activities in less than one week; much quicker than traditional thoracoscopic surgery, which requires a larger incision across the chest
- Reduced pain
- Minimal scarring
- Less trauma to the body