Minimally Invasive Mitral Valve Replacement
Mitral valve surgery is surgery to either repair or replace the mitral valve in your heart.
Blood that comes from the lungs enters the left atrium of the heart and crosses into the left ventricle. The mitral valve between these two chambers makes sure that the blood keeps moving forward. When the mitral valve is hardened (calcified), it prevents the blood from moving forward. When the mitral valve is too loose, the blood tends to flow backwards. Both of these conditions cause symptoms and may require mitral valve surgery.
Why is surgery performed?
Minimally invasive surgery may be done for these reasons:
- Changes in your mitral valve are causing major heart symptoms, such as chest pain (angina), shortness of breath, fainting spells (syncope), or heart failure.
- Tests show that the changes in your mitral valve are beginning to seriously affect your heart function.
- Your heart valve has been damaged by infection (endocarditis).
Minimally invasive mitral valve surgery is done through much smaller surgical cuts than the large cuts needed for open surgery.
There are several different ways to perform minimally invasive mitral valve surgery.
- Your heart surgeon may make a 2-inch to 3-inch-long cut in the right part of your chest near the sternum (breastbone). Muscles in the area will be divided so your surgeon can reach the heart. A small cut is made in the left side of your heart so the surgeon can repair or replace the mitral valve.
- In endoscopic surgery, your surgeon makes one to four small holes in your chest. Then your surgeon uses special instruments and a camera to do the surgery.
During replacement surgery. Your surgeon will remove your mitral valve and sew a new one into place. There are two main types of new valves:
- Mechanical -- made of man-made materials, such as titanium, or ceramic. These valves last the longest, but you will need to take blood-thinning medicine, such as warfarin (Coumadin) or aspirin, for the rest of your life.
- Biological -- made of human or animal tissue. These valves last 10 - 12 years, but you may not need to take blood thinners for life.
The surgery may take 2 -4 hours.