Blood that flows between different chambers of your heart must flow through a valve. This valve is called the mitral valve. It opens up enough so blood can flow from one chamber of your heart (left atria) to the next chamber (left ventricle). It then closes, keeping blood from flowing backwards.
Mitral valve surgery is surgery to either repair or replace the mitral valve in your heart.
Minimally invasive mitral valve surgery is done through much smaller incisions (cuts) than the large incision needed for open surgery.
See also: Mitral valve surgery - open
Before your surgery you will receive general anesthesia. This will make you unconscious and unable to feel pain.
There are several different ways to perform minimally invasive mitral valve surgery.
You will not need to be on a heart-lung machine for these types of surgery, but your heart rate will be slowed by medicine or a mechanical device.
If your surgeon can repair your aortic valve, you may have:
If your mitral valve is too damaged, you will need a new valve. This is called replacement surgery. Your surgeon will remove your mitral valve and sew a new one into place. There are two main types of new valves:
The surgery may take 1 to 3 hours.
This surgery can also be done through a groin artery, with no incisions on your chest. The doctor sends a catheter (flexible tube) with a balloon attached on the end. The balloon stretches the opening of the valve. This procedure is called percutaneous valvuloplasty.
You may need surgery if your mitral valve does not work properly.
Minimally invasive surgery may be done for these reasons:
A minimally invasive procedure has many benefits. There is less pain, blood loss, and risk of infection. You will also recover faster than you would from open heart surgery.
Risks for any surgery are:
Minimally invasive surgery techniques have far fewer risks than open surgery. Possible risks from minimally invasive valve surgery are:
Always tell your doctor or nurse:
You may be able to store blood in the blood bank for transfusions during and after your surgery. Ask your surgeon about how you and your family members can donate blood.
For the 2-week period before surgery, you may be asked to stop taking drugs that make it harder for your blood to clot. These might cause increased bleeding during the surgery.
Prepare your house for when you get home from the hospital.
The day before your surgery. Shower and shampoo well. You may be asked to wash your whole body below your neck with a special soap. Scrub your chest 2 or 3 times with this soap. You also may be asked to take an antibiotic, to guard against infection.
During the days before your surgery:
On the day of the surgery:
Expect to spend 3 to 5 days in the hospital after surgery. You will wake up in the intensive care unit (ICU) and recover there for 1 or 2 days. Nurses will closely watch monitors that show information about your vital signs (pulse, temperature, and breathing).
Two to 3 tubes will be in your chest to drain fluid from around your heart. They are usually removed 1 to 3 days after surgery. You may have a catheter (flexible tube) in your bladder to drain urine. You may also have intravenous (IV, in a vein) lines to get fluids.
You will go from the ICU to a regular hospital room. Your nurses and doctors will continue to monitor your heart and vital signs until you are stable enough to go home. You will receive pain medicine for pain in your chest.
Your nurse will help you slowly resume some activity. You may begin a program to make your heart and body stronger.
A temporary pacemaker may be placed in your heart if your heart rate becomes too slow after surgery.
Mechanical heart valves do not fail often. However, blood clots develop on them. If a blood clot forms, you may have a stroke. Bleeding can occur, but this is rare.
Biological valves tend to fail over time. But they have a lower risk of blood clots.
Techniques for minimally invasive heart valve surgery have improved greatly over the past 10 years. These techniques are safe for most patients, and they reduce recovery time and pain.
Mitral valve repair - right mini-thoracotomy; Mitral valve repair - partial upper sternotomy; Robotically-assisted, endoscopic valve repair, Percutaneous mitral valvuloplasty