Study: Minimally invasive valve procedure works well
After a six-year study, surgeons at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore have determined that they have found a better way to repair the mitral valve, which is key to proper blood flow.
The mitral valve is the "inflow valve" for the left ventricle, the heart’s main pumping chamber, Maryland officials explain. Blood flows from the lungs, where it picks up oxygen, across the open mitral valve and into the left ventricle. When the heart squeezes, the two leaflets of the mitral valve snap shut and prevent blood from backing up into the lungs. Blood is directed out of the heart to the rest of the body through another valve, the aortic valve.
Until now, surgical treatment meant repairing the diseased valve or replacing it with a metal one or one made from animal tissue. And the majority required open-heart surgery. Doctors concluded in their study -- which began in 2003 and ended in March -- that they could do a minimally invasive repair job by making a two-inch incision on the right side of the chest. The results of the study are published in the September issue of the Annals of Surgery.
The study of 187 patients showed the procedure is safe and effective and requires just a short hospital stay and rapid recovery, said lead author James S. Gammie, a cardiac surgeon at the University of Maryland Medical Center and associate professor of surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. There were no strokes, kidney failures or infections, which are the most common complications from surgery. Almost all of the patients are still alive.
The doctors said repair is also better than replacement, which tends to cause blood clots. Animal tissue replacement valves also only last 10-15 years. Repairs can last a patient’s lifetime.
The procedure further advances the trend in minimally invasive techniques across most areas of surgery. Very few surgeons across the country perform the procedure now, according to E. Albert Reece, vice president for medical affairs at the University of Maryland and dean of the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Perhaps that now will change.
Read the abstract here.