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Mitral Valve Repair Surgery

Surgery Overview

Mitral valve repair is an open-heart surgery that repairs a mitral valve that is not working as it should.

The mitral valve opens and closes to keep blood flowing in the proper direction through your heart. If the mitral valve doesn't close properly, it's called mitral valve regurgitation. If the valve is very tight and narrow, it's called mitral valve stenosis. In both of these cases, blood doesn't flow through the heart the right way.

The doctor will make a cut in the skin over your breastbone (sternum). This cut is called an incision. Then the doctor will cut through your sternum to reach your heart.

The doctor will connect you to a heart-lung bypass machine. It adds oxygen to your blood and moves the blood through your body. This machine will allow the doctor to stop your heartbeat while working on your heart.

How the repair is done depends on how the mitral valve is damaged. Your doctor can tell you how your mitral valve will be repaired.

After repairing the valve, the doctor will restart your heartbeat. Then the doctor may use wire to put your sternum back together. Your incision will be closed with stitches or staples. The wire will stay in your chest. The incision will leave a scar that will fade with time.

You may stay in the hospital for 3 to 8 days after surgery.

What To Expect

You will feel tired and sore for the first few weeks after surgery. You may have some brief, sharp pains on either side of your chest. Your chest, shoulders, and upper back may ache. The incision in your chest may be sore or swollen. These symptoms usually get better after 4 to 6 weeks.

You will probably be able to do many of your usual activities after 4 to 6 weeks. But for at least 6 weeks, you will not be able to lift heavy objects or do activities that strain your chest or upper arm muscles. At first you may notice that you get tired easily and need to rest often. It may take 1 to 2 months to get your energy back.

Even though the surgery repaired your mitral valve, it is still important to eat a heart-healthy diet, get regular exercise, not smoke, take your heart medicines, and reduce stress. Your doctor may recommend that you work with a nurse, a dietitian, and a physical therapist to make these changes. This is sometimes called cardiac rehabilitation.

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Why It Is Done

Mitral valve repair surgery is used for people who have severe narrowing of the valve and aren't good candidates for valvuloplasty. Mitral valve repair surgery is most often done if the mitral valve is very damaged or has a lot of calcium buildup.

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How Well It Works

After surgery, symptoms are relieved because the surgery opens the narrowed mitral valve. This allows blood to flow more easily through the heart.

Risks

Mitral valve repair surgery has the risks of any open-heart surgery with a heart-lung bypass. The exact risks of surgery vary depending on the person's specific condition and general health prior to surgery.

Risks during surgery and soon after surgery

These risks include dangerous blood clots, bleeding, infection, stroke, death, and risks associated with anesthesia.

Risks after surgery

Complications that happen after surgery include:

  • Mitral valve regurgitation. The valve might be damaged so that it doesn't close normally and allows blood to leak backward in the heart.
  • Restenosis. The valve can become narrow again. You may need another repair surgery or a valve replacement surgery.

Credits

Current as of: December 2, 2020

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Rakesh K. Pai MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
John A. McPherson MD, FACC, FSCAI - Cardiology

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