The mitral valve is a complex structure that controls blood flow through the left side of the heart. When open, the mitral valve allows blood to flow into the heart’s main pumping chamber, the left ventricle. When the left ventricle contracts to push blood through the body, the mitral valve closes to prevent blood from flowing back toward the lungs.
Sometimes the mitral valve is abnormal from birth or becomes damaged by infection. More often, mitral valve structures become damaged with age or from coronary artery disease.
Whatever the cause, an abnormal or damaged mitral valve cannot completely seal the heart’s left ventricle. With an incomplete seal, blood can escape the left ventricle and flow backwards through the mitral valve. This conflicting force can make the heart work harder, leading to further mitral valve damage and other potential complications such as congestive heart failure.
Surgical repair involves delicate reconstruction of native valve tissues in order to restore proper function. The most common approach to repair requires the surgeon to saw open the breastbone and spread the ribs to gain direct access to the heart.
Cutting the sternum and opening the rib cage — the body’s natural protective structure for the heart — can prolong healing time, increase risk of infection, serious complications and even mortality.
If your doctor recommends surgical repair, you may be a candidate for a new, less invasive surgical procedure called da Vinci Mitral Valve Repair (da Vinci MVR). This procedure uses a state-of-the-art surgical system designed to help your surgeon see vital anatomical structures more clearly and to perform a more precise operation.