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Allegheny General Hospital Introduces New, Beating-Heart Procedure for Mitral Valve Repair


Allegheny General Hospital’s (AGH) Cardiovascular Institute is offering a new, minimally-invasive procedure that enables physicians to repair a damaged mitral valve as the heart continues to beat.

The MitraClip system, developed by Abbott Vascular, is designed to treat degenerative mitral regurgitation (MR), a progressive and life-threatening condition in which the heart’s mitral valve leaflets fail to close tightly, allowing blood to flow backward from the heart’s left ventricle into the left atrium. The heart must then work harder to push blood through the body, causing fatigue, shortness of breath and worsening heart failure.

“This device gives us a long-awaited minimally invasive option for high-risk patients who can’t tolerate surgery,” said David Lasorda, DO, director of AGH’s Division of Interventional Cardiology.

MR is the most common heart valve problem in the United States. Approximately 4 million Americans have significant mitral valve insufficiency and the disease affects millions of people worldwide. Surgical repair is often the best treatment for MR, but many patients with significant regurgitation are too sick to undergo open heart surgery.

“Patients recovering from mitral valve surgery may take several months to regain normal physical function and activity,” said Srinivas Murali, MD, Director of Allegheny Health Network’s Cardiovascular Institute. “MitraClip can reduce MR and improve heart function and quality of life, without requiring a large incision in the chest and cardiopulmonary bypass.”

MitraClip is a catheter-based approach which enables interventional cardiologists to use fluoroscopic guidance to insert the clip through the femoral vein in the groin to the affected area along the mitral valve within the heart. Once there, the cardiologist delivers the clip, which attaches the two mitral valve leaflets together in the center, creating a double-barreled orifice.

The two holes side by side allow blood to go forward but prevent it from flowing backward.

Patients undergoing the procedure typically experience short recovery times and an average hospital stay of only three days.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved MitraClip for treatment of mitral regurgitation in October 2013.

The novel procedure is the latest in a series of innovations at Allegheny General that has improved care for patients with damaged heart valves. Earlier this year, AGH joined a select group of medical centers in the country performing robotically-assisted mitral valve repair surgery. The robotic approach accesses the valve through just a few small incisions on the side of the chest, near the patient’s arm, reducing trauma to tissue and muscles.

AGH physicians also were among the first in the country to introduce two minimally invasive surgical techniques for replacing damaged aortic valves. Physicians at AGH’s Cardiovascular Institute have been performing Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) since the procedure was FDA approved for use in high risk patients in 2012. In TAVR, replacement valves are inserted into the heart via a catheter, which can be advanced through the femoral vein from an incision in the groin (Transfemoral TAVR)or via a small incision between the ribs of the left lower chest, providing direct access to the heart (Transapical TAVR).


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