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HeartValveSurgery.com: Robotic Mitral Valve Repair

Patient education website HeartValveSurgery.com recently featured a video interview with cardiothoracic surgeon Joanna Chikwe, MD, professor and chair of the Department of Cardiac Surgery in the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai, about her minimally-invasive approach to fixing leaks caused by mitral valve regurgitation, one of the most common forms of heart valve disease. 

The mitral valve helps regulate the direction of blood flow in the heart. When the valve becomes leaky, it causes mitral valve regurgitation.

“Every time your heart beats, half the blood is going forward, but half the blood is going backward in the wrong direction,” Chikwe told HeartValveSurgery.com. “Your heart has to do twice the amount of work to get the same job done.”

Surgery to repair or replace the leaking valve can relieve a patient’s debilitating fatigue, prevent complications, such as heart failure and stroke, and restore normal life expectancy. If robotic surgery makes sense for a patient, Chikwe said it can be a nearly pain-free way of restoring normal life expectancy.

“It allows us to do the repair through a small incision—not much bigger than the short [edge] of a credit card—between the ribs,” Chikwe said in the interview. “That allows people to go home within three or four days.”

It's also a very safe option. Chikwe said that she performs 95% of her mitral valve repairs robotically, and the complication rate for the procedure at Cedars-Sinai is less than 0.5%.

“It wasn’t until I came to Cedars that I got the opportunity to use the robot with one of the most experienced teams in the country, and that’s been completely transformational,” said Chikwe, The Irina and George Schaeffer Distinguished Chair in Cardiac Surgery.

Click here to watch the complete interview on HeartValveSurgery.com.