University of Virginia Health System tests new device for mitral valve disease

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va., April 18, 2006 The mitral valve is an essential part of your heart. Matter of fact, you wouldn't exist without it. The valve is essentially a small, round hole with two flaps on the top and bottom. Its job is to open and close rapidly, regulating the flow of blood between the upper and lower chambers of the heart's left side- the main pumping chambers that send oxygen-rich red blood to your limbs and organs.

In some people, however, the mitral valve can leak, usually because of a congenital deformity or after a serious heart attack when the heart muscle itself is damaged. "Significant leakage of the mitral valve can shorten someone's life, not to mention making it tough to go about the activities of daily living," said Dr Scott Lim, a cardiologist at the University of Virginia Health System.

For years, the standard of care for mitral valve leakage has been open-heart surgery with the patient on a bypass machine. Now, heart patients at the UVa Health System have a new, less invasive, option to get a leaky valve fixed.

The UVa Health System is part of a national, randomized clinical trial of a tiny, permanent, implanted device made out of titanium called the MitraClip, which 'clips' the leaky halves of the mitral valve together without major surgery. The MitraClip procedure starts with a catheter in a patient's leg vein. The catheter, with the clip inside, is gently threaded to the heart to the part of the mitral valve that is leaking the most. Doctors then repair the valve via the catheter by putting the MitraClip clip on it with special hooks.

"The obvious advantage is that this is less invasive than open-heart surgery and patients can heal quicker," Lim said. "The procedure is done on an outpatient basis with an overnight observation. Patients can go home the very next day with no pain from open chest surgery."

Lim is the principal investigator at UVa for the trial, called EVEREST 2. He said the tria

Contact: Bob Beard
University of Virginia Health System

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