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Mitral Valve Regurgitation - Surgery

If your chronicmitral valve regurgitation (MR) becomes severe or you have symptoms of heart failure, such as shortness of breath, swelling, and fatigue, surgery to repair or replace your mitral valve will be needed.

Surgery is usually delayed if no symptoms or signs of heart failure are present. Your doctor will check for symptoms and check your heart during your regular visits. If follow-up tests show enlargement or abnormal function of the left ventricle, then the doctor usually recommends surgery.

Some doctors believe it's best to repair or replace the valve before you develop severe symptoms, because it leads to better long-term health. On the other hand, surgery is a major procedure that has its own risks and complications. Even if you have no symptoms, talk to your doctor about the benefits of surgery and about your heart's condition, your age, and your overall health.

With acute MR, urgent surgery to repair or replace the valve is usually needed. In some cases, surgery to correct the cause of acute MR may also be needed.

Repair is typically preferred over replacement. The decision between repairing or replacing the valve depends on the type of damage you have. For more information, see the topic Mitral Valve Regurgitation: Repair or Replace the Valve.


If mitral valve repair is done before the heart is severely damaged by the faulty valve, most people have excellent short- and long-term results.1

To repair the valve, the surgeon may:

  • Reshape the valve by removing excess valve tissue.
  • Add support to the valve ring by adding tissue or a collar-shaped structure around the base of the valve.
  • Attach the valve to nearby cordlike heart tissues (chordal transposition).


With replacement, the badly damaged valve is removed and a mechanical (plastic or metal) or bioprosthetic valve (usually made from pig tissue) is sewn into place. Before you have valve replacement surgery, you and your doctor will decide on which type of valve is right for you.

For more information, see:

Mitral Valve Replacement Surgery.
dplink.gif Heart Valve Problems: Should I Choose a Mechanical Valve or Tissue Valve to Replace My Heart Valve?

Transcatheter repair

A transcatheter procedure is a new way to repair a mitral valve. It does not require open-heart surgery. It is a minimally invasive procedure. A doctor uses catheters in blood vessels to insert a device in the valve. The device helps keep blood from leaking backward. This may relieve symptoms and improve quality of life. This procedure is available in a small number of hospitals. And it is not right for everyone. It might be done for a person who can't have surgery or for a person who has a high risk of serious problems from surgery.2

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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