The mitral valve is one of four valves of the heart which makes sure blood flows in the proper direction. Sometimes a mitral valve degenerates and doesn’t close completely allowing blood to flow back into the left atrium, with Barlow’s disease being the most severe form. Stenosis is another mitral valve problem where the valve does not open completely causing obstruction of the blood flow. Both are serious conditions and without treatment can lead to congestive heart failure, arrhythmia, and irreversible heart damage. If you need surgery, here are 10 questions to ask your cardiologist about mitral valve surgery.
Ask The Surgeon The Cause Of Your Valve Disease
Depending on the cause of your problem, certain surgeons may be better trained and experienced to perform the type of needed surgery. Diseases like Barlow’s Disease and Rheumatic Mitral Disease are two which need very experienced surgeons.
Ask How Many Valve Repair Surgeries He Or She Performs Every Year
You want someone who performs at least 100 per year.
Ask How Many Surgeries He Or She Performs For Your Particular Type Of Disease
The answer should be a minimum of 25 per year for an experienced surgeon.
Ask About The Success Rate For Your Type Of Disease
The goal here is to find out the specific success rate for your problem. The surgeon may have a 90% success rate in all valve surgeries, but a much lesser rate of success with Barlow’s valve repair, for example. Consider the success rate this surgeon has before making a decision.
Ask How Many Valve Replacement Surgeries The Surgeon Performs In A Year
If the number is equal or similar to repair surgeries, they are probably not a reference mitral repair surgeon. These more experienced surgeons would most likely perform repairs on 95% on the valves they see.
Ask How Long The Surgery Will Take
Expect your surgery to last several hours for a repair, and don’t be dismayed about the length of time. It is best to have it done properly rather than asking for a quicker valve replacement surgery instead. Ask your surgeon to explain.
Will I Continue to Have Regurgitation After Surgery?
An experienced surgeon will know exactly his or her own residual mitral regurgitation rate. This means how much leakage there will continue to be post surgery. They should be able to tell you, and it should be less than 10%.
If You Have Barlow’s Disease, Ask About Their Success With That Type Of Repair
An experienced surgeon will review all your tests and be able to tell you the success rate for Barlow’s repair. Expect the answer to be up to 95% success rate with those valves.
Ask About The Type Of Incision
You want to know what the doctor recommends and whether it’s likely to result in a successful repair. Then find out if you have a choice. Most repairs are done with a midline incision which is standard. It can also be done at the side or under the breast, but it limits the options for repair. If you have a complex repair, a side approach is less desirable unless the surgeon is extremely experienced. If you are having a minimally invasive surgery, find out how big and how many.
Ask About Other Valves Like the Tricuspid Valve
Since many patients with mitral regurgitation also have a problem with their tricuspid valve, ask whether the doctor will do both at the same time. Many experienced surgeons do.
Contact New Jersey Cardiology Associates for answers to all these questions and more about mitral valve surgery.