Mitral valve repair is performed to treat patients with leaking mitral valve, degenerative mitral valve, or mitral regurgitation. Most mitral valve leaks are diagnosed when a doctor detects a murmur and is confirmed with an echocardiogram.
Mitral valve repair includes reconstructing the native valve tissues to restore normal valvular structure and function. In cases when repair of the mitral valve cannot be performed successfully, mitral valve replacement is another option. Mitral valve replacement involves removing much of the native mitral valve tissues and replacing it with an artificial valve consisting of animal and/or manufactured components. For either operation, the most common surgical approach to the mitral valve requires the surgeon to saw open the breastbone and spread the edges apart to gain direct access to the heart.
Although this approach provides excellent access to the heart, the resulting wound requires several months to heal completely, an extended recovery period with substantial activity restrictions.
Sometimes minimally invasive mitral valve repair can be conducted. This process involves accessing the valve through much smaller incisions and without cutting the breastbone. These minimally-invasive operations are performed with the use of specialized hand-held instruments or a robotic device.