Mitral Valve Repair
Repair leaves the patient with the best chance to restore normal heart anatomy and function. Over 94%, of all mitral valves referred for surgery to the Northwest Regional Heart and Vascular Center are repaired. The patients repaired valve also resists infection better than a valve replacement and does not mandate anticoagulation (blood thinning medication) after surgery.
Heart Valve Replacement
In some cases the faulty valve and its supporting structures must be removed and replaced with a mechanical or biological valve prosthetic. This may be necessary particularly in valves damaged by rheumatic fever or very heavily calcified valves. Your surgeon will discuss the pros and cons of each type of valve prior to your surgery to help you decide which type to use should you require a valve replacement.
What is used to replace the valve?
Heart valves can be replaced by mechanical (artificial) valves or valves made from animal tissue (biological valves). Mechanical valves typically do not wear out. However, people with mechanical heart valves must take an anticoagulant medicine for the rest of their lives to keep blood clots from forming on the valve.
Biological valves are usually made from cow (bovine) or pig (porcine) tissue. They are less likely to cause clots. However, these valves are less durable, and young patients may require another replacement later in life.
You and your surgeon will decide which type of valve is best for you.
Approaches for Mitral Valve Surgery
Robotic (da Vinci) Assisted Valve Surgery - This uses high-definition imaging and instruments introduced through several tiny ports that allow precise minimally invasive surgery. Robotic assistance is particularly useful in mitral valve surgery. Most isolated mitral valve surgeries are performed utilizing robotic assistance contributing to our team’s high rate of successful repair. If the problem involves blood leaking through a dilated mitral valve your surgeon may sew a ring around the opening to restore its normal size. The attachments of the valve to the heart (chordae) may be replaced or the valve leaflets repaired to allow secure closure of the valve all with robotic assistance without the need for a large incision and division of the breastbone.
Traditional, Open-Chest Surgery - This approach will be necessary for patients requiring multiple valve and or concomitant coronary bypass procedures. For this surgery, your surgeon makes an incision down the center of your chest and divides the breastbone for direct access to your heart. A heart-lung bypass machine will temporarily perform the work of your heart while the surgeon replaces or repairs the faulty valve. The traditional incision is rarely needed for isolated valve surgery.
What can I expect after valve surgery?
Your recovery time will depend on the type of surgery you have and your general health status before surgery. Both minimally invasive surgery and Robotic Assisted Valve Surgery can result in shorter hospital stays, less pain and scarring, reduced requirement for blood transfusions, fewer restrictions and faster return to normal activities.
The average length of stay for all patients undergoing mitral valve repair is 3.43 days compared with the national average from the Society of Thoracic surgeons of 7.0 days.
A list of medications and appropriate activity level will be prescribed at the time of hospital discharge. Cardiac Rehabilitation is often recommended after heart surgery to facilitate a return to normal activity level.
Looking for Heart Valve Surgery / Surgeons in Portland?
Call now to schedule an appointment: 503-607-8380