New technology offers alternative to open heart surgery

A new method of treating mitral regurgitation (MR), the leaking of blood through the mitral valve into the heart chamber, provides a less-invasive alternative to open heart surgery.

A study published in Journal of Interventional Cardiology found that a variety of advances have allowed for the potential treatment of MR through various catheter techniques, similar to angioplasty. While over 50,000 mitral valve surgical procedures are performed annually, open surgery is an undesirable option, especially for high-risk patients.

The study reports on the first phase of a clinical trial that employed this new treatment method on surgical candidates with moderate-severe and severe MR. The procedure involved the positioning of a guide catheter in the left atrium of the heart, far less invasive than open heart surgery. “The procedure has been accomplished safely and a significant reduction in MR has been achieved in the majority of patients treated,” according to Dr. Ted Feldman, lead researcher of the study.

In the United States , as many as 250,000 patients with valvular heart disease suffer from MR and an additional 2 million Americans with other heart diseases experience it to some degree. The study marks a groundbreaking step in the development of new therapies as well as an advance in knowledge of heart surgery.

Ted Feldman, MD is Director of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory at Evanston Northwestern Healthcare in Evanston, Illinois and Professor of Medicine at the Northwestern University School of Medicine. He is the Principal Investigator for the first trial of percutaneous mitral valve repair in humans.

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