Minimally Invasive Mitral Valve Repair / Replacement

 

Minimally Invasive Mitral Valve Repair / Replacement

Photo Credit: Wikimedia.org

Surgical treatment for mitral valve disease includes either repairing the patient’s diseased valve or replacing it with a metal, mechanical valve or an animal tissue valve.  Mitral valve surgery was first performed in 1960, when surgeons replaced the diseased, native valve with an artificial valve.  For the next 20 years, replacement with a metal or animal tissue valve was the gold standard.  However, no artificaial valve is as good as a patient’s own valve.  The metal valve tends to form blood clots, which can lead to a stroke, so patients must take a blood-thinning medication for the rest of their lives, with the risk of bleeding.  Tissue valves are less likely to cause clots, but they may wear out after10-15 years.  Patients with “repaired” valves can expect them to last for the rest of their lives.

 

Minimally invasive mitral valve repair surgery is performed through a small incision, often using specialized surgical instruments. The incision is 2- to 4-inches in the side of the chest as opposed to a 6- to 8-inch incision in the breastbone which is required for traditional surgery.  Robotically assisted keyhole approaches or port-access techniques are also available for some types of surgery.  Minimal incision valve repair surgery is more technically demanding than conventional repair through a large incision, and consequently, very few surgeons across the United States perform this complex procedure.  Valve repair is unquestionably superior to valve replacement, however, and minimally invasive valve surgery is much better tolerated by the patient.

 

 

 

Minimally Invasive Mitral Valve Repair

Photo Credit: Wikimedia.org

 

Benefits of minimally invasive mitral valve surgery

 

The benefits of minimally invasive mitral valve surgery may include:

 

  • Reduced pain
  • Reduced blood loss
  • Reduced risk of infection
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Faster recovery
  • Faster return to work
  • Less scarring, improved appearance after surgery

 

Who Is a Candidate for Minimally Invasive or Robotic Surgery?

 

Your surgeon will review the results of your diagnostic tests before your scheduled surgery to determine if you are a candidate for a minimally invasive or robotic surgery technique. The surgical team will carefully compare the advantages and disadvantages of these techniques with those of traditional surgery.  Rest assured, most surgeons who are able to perform minimally invasive techniques prefer to recommend these techniques whenever possible, and use conventional techniques only after patients prove to be ill-suited for minimally invasive techniques.

 

The type of treatment recommended for your condition depends on several factors, including the type and severity of heart disease, age, medical history and lifestyle.

 

Recovery after minimally invasive heart surgery

 

In general, you may be able to return to work, resume driving, and participate in most non-strenuous activities within 1 to 4 weeks after minimally invasive heart surgery, and may often resume heavy lifting and other more strenuous activities within 4-6 weeks after surgery.  Your healthcare team will provide specific guidelines based on your rate of recovery.

 

To maintain your cardiovascular health after surgery, we strongly encourage you to make lifestyle changes and take your medications as prescribed. Heart-healthy lifestyle changes that are important to your recovery include:

 

  • Quitting smoking
  • Treating high cholesterol
  • Managing high blood pressure and diabetes
  • Exercising regularly
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Eating a heart-healthy diet
  • Participating in a cardiac rehabilitation program, as recommended
  • Following up with your doctor for regular visits

 

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