A device approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) on Oct. 25 to treat leaky mitral valves was first used in this region as part of a clinical trial at the Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Heart & Vascular Center. This new non-surgical alternative for mitral valve repair, which involves using a small clip, offers hope to the more than four million Americans with leaky mitral valves—nearly one in 10 people aged 75 and above.
The Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Heart & Vascular Center was one of 47 centers nationwide to participate in the medical trial that led to approval of the device by the FDA.
According to John Lasala, MD, PhD, a Washington University interventional cardiologist and director of the Washington University and Barnes-Jewish structural heart disease program, the procedure is ideal for treating patients with a leaking mitral valve who are not good candidates for surgery and who meet appropriate anatomical criteria.
“Traditionally, surgeons repair a leaking mitral valve by making a large incision to open the chest cavity and access the heart, which is an excellent option,” says Dr. Lasala. “But this new procedure is a breakthrough because we can essentially stop the backward flow of the blood through the leaky valve and decrease the patient’s risk of heart failure without any stitching involved.”
During the minimally invasive procedure, an interventional cardiologist threads a catheter through a vein in the inner right leg while the patient is under general anesthesia. The physician guides the catheter to the heart while watching its progress via a transesophageal echocardiogram image. When the catheter reaches the heart, it is used to make a small puncture from the right to the left side, which allows access to the leaking mitral valve. Next, a small clip is used to seal the leak by bringing the two leaflets of the mitral valve together, thereby reducing the amount of blood regurgitating. The patient then remains in the hospital for observation and recovery and typically can go home in two days.
“This new less-invasive option is one more tool we have to treat patients who are not candidates for open heart surgery, and a complement to our already comprehensive treatment options for valve repair or replacement,” says Dr. Lasala.
For more information about mitral valve repair options, call 855-45-HEART.
Barnes-Jewish Hospital is a 1,315 bed teaching hospital affiliated with Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Mo. The hospital has a 1,763 member medical staff, with many recognized as "Best Doctors in America." Barnes-Jewish is a member of BJC HealthCare, which provides a full range of health care services through its 13 hospitals and more than 100 health care sites in Missouri and Illinois. Barnes-Jewish Hospital is also consistently ranked on the elite honor roll of America’s “Best Hospitals” by U.S. News & World Report.