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Mitral Valve Surgery

The mitral valve is located between two chambers of the heart known as the left atrium and the left ventricle. This valve makes sure that the blood keeps moving forward through the heart.

When this valve is not functioning properly, you may need surgery to repair or replace the mitral valve.

What are the most common problems with mitral valves?

Mitral stenosis occurs when the mitral valve narrows and hardens, preventing the blood from completely emptying out of the lungs into the heart. It’s usually caused by rheumatic fever as a child. Other rarer conditions can cause inflammation of the mitral valve flaps, which leads to scarring and hardening of the mitral valve. Mitral stenosis is usually treated by replacing the mitral valve with a prosthetic valve. Symptoms include cough (sometimes coughing up blood), shortness of breath and swelling of extremities.

Mitral regurgitation occurs when the mitral valve is leaky. A leaky mitral valve will cause blood to flow backward into the lungs. Depending on the severity of your condition, this can lead to progressive lung congestion and heart failure. Symptoms commonly include shortness of breath, decreased exercise endurance and swelling of the extremities in severe cases.

Medications can sometimes help reduce symptoms. But the most definitive treatment involves surgical repair of the valve or replacement with a prosthetic valve.

Mitral valve treatment options

Choosing an experienced surgeon is critical to a successful and durable mitral valve repair or replacement. The University of Toledo Medical Center’s team of cardiothoracic surgeons are knowledgeable about the latest surgical interventions and can recommend the best treatment option for you.

Minimally Invasive Mitral Valve Surgery

Procedures on the mitral valve usually require surgeons to split the breastbone to access the heart. Thankfully, technological advances now allow for minimally invasive mitral valve surgery, which has the same success rate.

Cardiac surgeons make a small incision in the right chest between the ribs, eliminating the need to break any bones. Patients recover more quickly and require less blood transfusion.

Mitral Valve Repair

Data has shown that patients fare better — fewer deaths and complications — when valves are repaired rather than replaced. Even though repairing a valve is a complex procedure, studies have shown that in expert hands, the chance of success is similar through minimally invasive and conventional chest splitting incisions. Studies have shown that patients who have their valves repaired before the onset of symptoms have a normal lifespan.

Mitral Valve Replacement

In patients whose mitral valve has been destroyed or hardened by calcium or infection or is too deformed, the valve may need to be replaced. Surgeons use two kinds of replacement valves:

A mechanical valve can last longer, but you will need to take blood thinner medications for the rest of your life.

bioprosthetic valve is made from animal tissue and patients do not need to take blood thinners.

Last Updated: 6/27/22