The Condition: Mitral Valve Prolapse
Your mitral valve separates the upper and lower chambers of the left side of your heart. It has two flaps that control blood flow and when the valve opens, it allows blood to flow into your heart’s main pumping chamber. When this chamber contracts to push blood out of your heart, your mitral valve closes to stop blood from flowing backwards. If your mitral valve flaps do not work properly, some blood flows backwards. This is called regurgitation or prolapse. It makes the heart work harder and can increase the risk of heart failure.
Mitral valve prolapse is a very common condition and occurs in women more often than men. It can occur over time or an individual’s mitral valve can be abnormal at birth. Many people have no symptoms at all and treatment is never needed. If you do have symptoms, they may include rapid heartbeat, chest pain, fatigue, difficulty breathing after activity, or shortness of breath.
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The Surgery: Mitral Valve Surgery
Treatment and surgical options for mitral valve prolapse depend on how severe your symptoms are and your overall health. If your symptoms are mild, your doctor may suggest medication or lifestyle changes. If your symptoms become worse, your doctor may recommend mitral valve surgery. The goal of surgery is to allow your valve to open and close properly. There are two common types of mitral valve surgery: valve repair and valve replacement.
With valve replacement, your surgeon cuts out the damaged valve and replaces it with a new, artificial valve. The new valve may be mechanical (from manmade materials) or biological (from human or animal tissue). With valve repair, your surgeon rebuilds one or more of the valve flaps/leaflets using your own tissue. Your doctor will fully explain the pros and cons of replacing your valve versus repairing your valve.
During open surgery, doctors make a large chest incision and cut through your breastbone (sternum) to reach your heart. The incision must be large enough for your surgeon to fit his or her hands and surgical instruments inside your chest. Open surgery allows your surgeon to see and touch your heart and tissues.
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During minimally invasive surgery, specifically thoracoscopic surgery, doctors repair or replace your valve through one or more small incisions instead of a large incision. Long, thin surgical instruments and a tiny camera are inserted through the incisions to reach your heart. The camera sends images to a video monitor to guide surgeons as they operate. Another minimally invasive option for patients facing valve surgery is da Vinci Surgery.
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Only you and your doctor can decide if da Vinci Surgery is right for you. Click here
to fill out and bring this form with you to your next appointment. It may help you discuss any symptoms or health concerns you may have with your doctor.