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MitraClip procedure at Via Christi

A new device is now available that offers more patients who have mitral valve regurgitation a treatment option that doesn’t require open heart surgery. Mitral valve regurgitation is the most common heart valve problem and until recently, the only way to repair mitral valves was through open heart surgery.

Mitral valve leakage affects a significant number of people, nearly one in 10 of those who are age 75 and older, although many cases are fairly mild. The condition may be progressive and life threatening and, because of the extra work the heart performs to get blood throughout the body, it can increase the risk of irregular heartbeats, stroke and heart failure.

Medication cannot correct mitral regurgitation, but medications are often prescribed to relieve symptoms, which include shortness of breath; lack of energy or stamina, especially during exercise; lightheadedness; heart palpitations; and swelling of the legs and feet. These symptoms often place serious limitations on normal daily activities.

The MitraClip Clip Delivery System offers a minimally invasive solution to mitral valve repair for patients who are not good candidates for open heart surgery. The procedure is designed for people with moderate to severe mitral valve leakage, or patients doctors feel would have a prolonged recovery or complications with open heart surgery.

Minimally invasive procedure

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved use of the MitraClipdevice in the United States in October 2013. Ascension Via Christi St. Francis is one of only 56 hospitals in the United States that are approved to perform the procedure, which is a beating-heart procedure requiring no cardiopulmonary bypass.

The clip is delivered through the patient’s veins, with entry of the catheter delivery system through the leg. The clip is then directed upward to the heart. 

A state-of-the-art fluoroscopy machine identifies the exact location of the leak in the valve and allows the team to target the valve repair. 

Once physicians and technicians have identified the target area, the clip is directed to that spot and clips the edges of the valve together to minimize leaking. This helps the heart function more efficiently, which relieves symptoms and improves the patient’s quality of life.

Because the surgery is minimally invasive, the recovery period for patients is significantly reduced. Average post-surgery hospital stay for patients who undergo the procedure is one to two days, compared with one to two weeks for traditional mitral valve surgery.