Minimally Invasive Mitral Valve Surgery

For more information on mitral valve prolapse or mitral valve repair or to make an appointment, please call (520) 626-6339. You may also request an appointment by completing the Request an Appointment form and selecting Heart Surgery as the specialty.

Mitral Valve Prolapse

Mitral valve disease affects approximately five percent of patients in the United States. The mitral valve controls blood flow through the left side of the heart. If the mitral valve cannot tightly seal the left ventricle, this is called prolapse. With mitral valve prolapse, some blood flows back into the atrium – a condition called regurgitation. Regurgitation can make the heart work harder, leading to further valve damage and increasing the risk of heart failure. There are different causes but rupture of the chords holding the leaflets and dilatation of the structure of the valve are the most common. Generally, patients are treated with medical therapy which helps to reduce the effect of the leak. When the consequences of the leak cannot be sufficiently treated with medical therapy alone patients are referred for surgery. In today's environment repair of the mitral valve rather than replacement with a prosthetic valve is the preferred method.

The standard approach for the repair consists of a sternotomy and placing the patient on cardiopulmonary bypass. Another approach is a right thoracotomy or incision between the ribs to repair the valve. Again the patient is put on cardiopulmonary bypass for the repair. The most minimally invasive approach is a port access procedure consisting of a robotic mitral valve repair. Instead of a sternotomy or right thoracotomy, small incisions less than half inch in size are used for access to the mitral valve. This approach also has the advantage of the vastly improved visualization of the mitral valve.

An Alternative to Open-Heart Surgery

If your doctor recommends surgery to treat mitral valve prolapse, you may be a candidate for robotically assisted closed-chest heart surgery, potentially the most effective and least invasive treatment option. Robotically assisted, minimally invasive mitral valve repair is an alternative to conventional open heart surgery. This mitral valve repair is performed using the da Vinci Surgical System®, enabling your surgeon to operate with precision through a few small incisions.

In addition to avoiding the pain and trauma of cracking open the breastbone to access the heart through a traditional sternotomy and rib spreading, robotically assisted minimally invasive mitral valve repair may provide patients with the following benefits over open-heart surgery:
  • Less risk of infection
  • Less blood loss and need for blood transfusions
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Significantly less scarring
  • Faster recovery from pain
  • Quicker return to normal activities
  • Potentially better clinical outcome

As with any surgery, these benefits cannot be guaranteed, as surgery is both patient- and procedure-specific. While robotically assisted minimally invasive mitral valve repair is considered safe and effective, it may not be appropriate for every individual. Always ask your doctor about all treatment options, as well as their risks and benefits.