Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Interventional cardiologists created an alternative to open heart surgery

Open Heart Surgery now alternative way

Interventional cardiologists created an alternative to open heart surgery by developing a mitral valve clip. To alleviate mitral valve regurgitation--a condition where the heart's mitral valve does not close properly, allowing blood to leak back into the heart--cardiologists insert a catheter into the patient's groin that travels up into the mitral valve. The clip is fed through this catheter, where it finally grasps and tightens the valves' leaflets--effectively preventing blood from leaking. The clip remains in place while the catheter is removed, the entire procedure taking approximately two hours and recovery a few weeks. The procedure is good for those with weaker hearts, when traditional surgery is more dangerous.

Herndon was one of the first patients in the United States to have the mitral clip procedure. First, interventional cardiologists inserted a catheter into her groin up into the mitral valve. Next, a clip was fed through. The clip grasped and tightened the valves' leaflets, preventing blood from leaking.

"By pulling them together and approximating them, it reduces the leakiness," Dr. Hanzel said.

The clip stays and keeps blood from leaking, and the catheter is removed. The procedure takes two hours, the same as for open-heart surgery. The difference is in the recovery -- down from months to just weeks.

"Patients typically say they feel better," Dr. Hanzel said. "They can breathe better. They can do more without having to stop and rest."

Herndon's mitral regurgitation was reduced from severe to trivial, and she's back looking for bargains again. "I always did love to go shopping," Herdon said.

The mitral clip procedure is good for patients who have a weak heart and may not make it through traditional surgery. The procedure is being investigated in clinical trials in 38 hospitals across the country.

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