EMORY CARDIOLOGIST SUCCESSFULLY PERFORMS WORLD'S FIFTH NON-SURGICAL
REPAIR OF FAULTY HEART VALVE
Could Replace Open Heart Surgery For Mitral Valve Repair
ATLANTA Richard Kraus has known for a couple of years that one of
his heart valves needed repaired. When he began to feel winded from
walking up the small hill in front of his home in Stone Mountain, his
doctor told him his heart’s mitral valve was leaking and he would continue
to feel weakened until the problem was fixed.
Until recently, his only course of treatment was open heart surgery,
a major procedure that could take several months of recovery time. That
is until he met Emory Cardiologist Peter Block, MD.
Block performed the world’s fifth non-surgical repair of the mitral
valve on Kraus, 75, in early September at Emory University Hospital.
The innovative procedure uses a catheter to attach a tiny metallic clip
to a leaking mitral valve, the heart valve that separates the left upper
chamber of the heart from the left lower chamber.
The procedure may eliminate the need for open-heart surgery in some
patients, like Kraus, who suffer from significant mitral valve regurgitation.
Mitral valve regurgitation is a progressive, long-term disorder in which
the mitral valve does not close properly and blood leaks backward with
each heartbeat, causing the heart to work harder. It affects approximately
4 million people in the United States. About 250,000 develop significant
mitral regurgitation annually.
Patients with significant mitral regurgitation eventually become so
weakened by the condition that they require open-heart surgery to replace
or repair the damaged mitral valve. About 44,000 U.S. patients undergo
open-heart surgery annually for mitral-valve repair.
The new procedure is minimally invasive. Under full anesthesia, a catheter
(a thin, flexible plastic tube), introduced through the skin in the
thigh area, is guided through the femoral vein into the affected area
of the heart. A smaller delivery catheter that holds the implantable
clip is slipped through this tube, so the clip can be guided into place
and attached to the leaflets (the "swinging doors") of the mitral valve.
Once the clip is securely attached, the delivery catheter is removed.
The entire process is monitored by an echocardiogram. The initial patients
returned to normal activity within a few days.
The procedure is under an FDA-approved Investigational Device Exemption,
and has been performed on five patients world-wide. The procedure will
be under the FDA Exemption through the 10th patient, and then will enter
"The results are showing promise that open heart surgery will not be
the only option for patients suffering from mitral valve regurgitation,"
says Block. "There are many benefits - it is much less invasive since
it is done through a catheter, and recovery time is quicker."
To be eligible for the investigational procedure, candidates must have
moderate to severe mitral regurgitation and be experiencing symptoms
(fatigue, chest pain, shortness of breath); or, lacking these symptoms,
they must have a weakened left ventricle.
Before his procedure, Kraus would have to stop halfway up the driveway
to his house to catch his breath. Today he can jog the small hill with
no problems. "This was a good alternative for me," he said at a follow-up
visit with Dr. Block on Oct. 8. "I am very happy I didn’t have to undergo
open heart surgery, and the recovery time has been short. I would recommend
this to anyone."
About Emory Hospitals and the Emory Heart Center
Emory Hospitals include Emory University Hospital, a 587-bed hospital
located on the Emory University campus in northeast Atlanta, Emory Crawford
Long Hospital, a 583-bed, community-based hospital in midtown and Wesley
Woods Hospital, a 100-bed geriatric hospital located on the Emory campus.
Emory Hospitals are components of EMORY HEALTHCARE, the most comprehensive
health care system in Atlanta. Other components of EMORY HEALTHCARE
are: The Emory Clinic, the Emory Children's Center, the jointly owned
Emory-Adventist Hospital, and EHCA, LLC, a limited liability company
created in collaboration with HCA Healthcare.
The Emory Heart Center is comprised of all cardiology services and research
at Emory University Hospital (EUH), Emory Crawford Long Hospital (ECLH)
Carlyle Fraser Heart Center, the Andreas Gruentzig Cardiovascular Center
of Emory University and the Emory Clinic. Ranked in the top ten of U.S.
News & World Report's annual survey of the nation's best Heart Centers,
the Emory Heart Center has a rich history of excellence in all areas
of cardiology - including education, research and patient care. It is
also internationally recognized as one of the birthplaces of modern