Surgical Procedures

Mitral Valve Repair / Replacement Surgery

The Mitral valve is located between the left atrium and left ventricle. When the heart squeezes, the two leaflets of the mitral valve snap shut and prevent blood from backing up to the lungs. Blood is directed out of the heart to the rest of the body through the Aortic valve. When the Mitral valve is damaged or is not functioning correctly, it cannot seal completely. This means the blood can escape from the left ventricle, flow back through the valve and leak into the lungs. This causes the heart to work harder, which could further damage the valve or create other complications such as congestive heart failure, heart arrhythmias, and other permanent heart problems.

Abnormalities with the Mitral valve may be congenital (which means you were born with the damage), or, more often, the valve becomes diseased and abnormal as a result of an infection (Rheumatic fever or endocarditis), age (degenerative), a previous heart attack, coronary artery disease or other heart weakness. Each year, millions of people are diagnosed with heart valve disease. The valve can develop one or both of the following conditions that will require surgery:

  • Regurgitation is when the Mitral valve leaks and does not close completely. (You may also hear the term “regurgitant” used when referring to this condition.) If the leaflets of the valve are damaged and do not sufficiently close, the blood may leak back into the heart. When the blood regurgitates it is forced back into the atrium where it can build pressure there and in the lungs. This pressure will also keep the lungs from working properly.
  • Stenosis is when the Mitral valve becomes narrow. Over the course of time, calcium deposits may form around the valve causing it to become restricted. When the valve is narrow there is less blood available to fill the ventricle when the left atrium contracts, which makes it difficult for the heart to pump blood out to the rest of the body.

Depending on the severity of your valve disease and your personal situation, your surgeon will decide whether it is best to repair or replace your Mitral valve.