Mitral valve repair offers alternative to open-heart surgery

New treatment reduces risk for some cardiology patients

Patients whose hearts have a faulty mitral valve and are considered high-risk for open heart surgery have a new treatment option at the UVM Medical Center.

Called transcatheter mitral valve repair (TMVR), the procedure inserts a catheter through a vein in the leg to reach the heart and make the repair. The mitral valve performs a check-valve function and is located between the left atrium, where blood enters the heart from the lungs, and the left ventricle, which pumps the blood to your entire body.

When the mitral valve fails – often because of aging or disease – blood can leak backwards from the left ventricle, through the mitral valve and into the left atrium. This is called mitral valve regurgitation. While small leaks are usually not a problem, more severe cases weaken the heart over time and can lead to heart failure. Open heart surgery is the standard treatment for mitral valve regurgitation, but not all patients are able to have this kind of invasive surgery. 

The new procedure

TMVR is a minimally invasive treatment that uses an FDA-approved device called Mitraclip. This small clothespin-like device is attached to the mitral valve using a catheter guided through a vein in the leg.

The device clips together the mitral valve leaflets, which improves the heart’s blood-pumping efficiency and restores effective function.

“More than 25,000 patients have been treated worldwide and have seen improvement in heart failure-related symptoms with this device,” said UVM Medical Center interventional cardiologist Harold Dauerman, M.D.

The UVM Health Network started offering this treatment option to appropriate patients in January 2017 and has been treating one to two patients per month.

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