Harold Dauerman, M.D., left, working in the cardiac catheterization lab at the UVM Medical Center. (Photo: LCoM Creative Services)
Patients whose hearts have a faulty mitral valve and are considered high risk for open-heart surgery now have a treatment option offered by cardiologists at the University of Vermont Medical Center. Called Transcatheter Mitral Valve Repair (TMVR), the procedure uses a catheter inserted through a vein in the leg to reach the heart and make the repair.
The mitral valve performs a check-valve function and is located between the left atrium, where blood enters the heart from the lungs, and the left ventricle, which pumps the blood to your entire body.
Abnormal leaking of blood backwards from the left ventricle, through the mitral valve into the left atrium is called mitral valve regurgitation. This valve failure is often the result of aging or disease. While small leaks are usually not considered a problem, more severe cases weaken the heart over time and can lead to heart failure.
Open-heart surgery is the standard method of treatment for mitral valve regurgitation; however, the invasive nature of this surgery makes it not a feasible option for all patients.
The new procedure
TMVR is a minimally invasive treatment option that uses an FDA-approved device called Mitraclip. It is a small clothespin-like device that is attached to the mitral valve using a catheter guided through a one-quarter inch incision in a vein in the leg to reach the heart.
The mitral valve leaflets are clipped together with the device instead of being sutured together during open-heart surgery, making this procedure much less invasive, but still effective for improving the heart’s blood pumping efficiency. Once placed, the clip helps to close the leaky valve and restores effective function.
“More than 25,000 patients have been treated worldwide and have seen improvement in heart failure- related symptoms with this device,” says Harold Dauerman, M.D., professor of medicine at the Larner College of Medicine at UVM and an interventional cardiologist at the UVM Medical Center.
“The UVM Health Network started offering this treatment option to appropriate patients in January. We are treating 1-2 patients a month, including a 90-year old who had become extremely immobilized by his disease. I am happy to report that he had a rapid recovery from the procedure and is now enjoying a much improved lifestyle.”
Learn more about mitral valve repair in this blog by Dauerman.
Video animation of a Mitraclip placement.
(This article was written by Mike Noble, former senior media relations strategist at the UVM Medical Center.)