• MitraClip and Treating the Mitral Valve

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    Researchers are exploring two catheter-based approaches to repair the mitral valve. One innovative, less-invasive procedure for heart valve repair is called the MitraClip. The MitraClip is a tiny clip that grasps the leaflets of the mitral valve to create two smaller openings in the leaky valve, rather than one large opening. This stops blood from flowing backward (regurgitating). The clip is placed in the heart using a slender tube called a catheter. The catheter is threaded up to the heart through a vein in the groin. The clip is then moved into position directly over the center of the mitral valve's leaflets and put into place. Then the catheter is removed from the patient's body.

    According to the data from clinical trials, using the MitraClip is promising for treating severe mitral valve regurgitation in patients who were too sick for surgery. Data from a clinical research study called the Endovascular Valve Edge-to-edge REpair STudy (EVEREST II) High Risk Registry found that after one year, patients who underwent the experimental procedure had a survival rate of 75 percent versus a survival rate of 55 percent for patients who received medication only. Additionally, 74 percent of survivors after a year had no or only slight limitations on physical activity. (Click here to read more about the study's one-year findings.) In October 2013, the FDA approved the MitraClip device for use in patients outside of research trials.

    Another catheter-based approach delivers a device via catheter to change the size and shape of the ring of tissue that circles around the valve (mitral annulus). Like cinching a belt, the mitral annulus is tightened so the mitral flaps will close properly. One study is testing the safety and effectiveness of planting a spring-type device in the coronary sinus as a way to alter the shape and size of the annulus and encourage the valve’s flaps to close properly. These devices are still under investigation and are not yet approved by the FDA.