Mitral regurgitation, caused by a leaky heart valve, happens when the valve between your heart’s lower left chamber (ventricle) allows blood to flow back into the upper chamber (atrium) with each heartbeat. Over time, the extra burden on your heart and lungs can enlarge and weaken your heart and may lead to congestive heart failure.
If your valve is seriously damaged, your doctor may suggest surgically replacing it or having it non-surgically replaced. If you’re not a good candidate for surgery or your mitral valve only needs to be repaired, you may be eligible for this less-invasive treatment.
For certain patients, doctors across the Sutter Health network now perform non-surgical heart valve repair called transcatheter mitral valve repair (TMVR) with MitraClip®. This technology doesn't require opening your chest or temporarily stopping your heart. You may qualify for this procedure if you're elderly, have advanced heart failure or other serious medical conditions.
During the procedure, doctors place a thin tube called a catheter into a large vein in your leg to reach your heart. Unlike open heart surgery, TMVR with MitraClip® is performed while your heart is functioning. Once the catheter reaches your heart, a dime-sized clip clamps the improperly working valve, allowing it to close more tightly and reducing backward blood flow. The implanted clip becomes a permanent part of your heart.
Potential benefits of MitraClip® repair include:
- Quick recovery times. People are typically released from the hospital the following day.
- No need for open heart surgery.
- Preservation of your natural valve. In general, the more natural valve is preserved, the better the procedure results.
- Avoids the need for lifelong anticoagulant medicine, typical after valve replacement.
- Reduces the need for repeat valve surgery.
- Reduces blood backflow and accompanying symptoms.
- Reduces hospitalizations.
TMVR with MitraClip® is not right for everyone. It should only be used to treat those too sick for surgery, based on the clinical judgment of the heart team and a cardiac surgeon experienced in mitral valve disease. Talk to your doctor about the best option for you.