Mitral Valve Regurgitation - Surgery

With chronicmitral valve regurgitation (MR), surgery to repair or replace the mitral valve might be recommended. Whether surgery is right for you depends on many things including the cause of MR.

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.

Chronic regurgitation

Primary MR. Surgery is the only cure for primary MR, because the abnormal shape of the mitral valve is causing the regurgitation.

Your doctor will check many things to see if surgery is right for you. Your doctor may check to see if:

  • Your valve can be repaired with surgery.
  • You have symptoms.
  • You have severe regurgitation.
  • Your heart has pumping problems (low ejection fraction).
  • Your left ventricle is larger than normal.

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.

Secondary MR. Surgery cannot cure secondary MR, because another heart problem is causing the mitral valve to not close properly. Treatment of the heart problem, such as heart failure, may be the right treatment for you. Some people might benefit from surgery to repair or replace the mitral valve.

Your doctor will check many things to see if surgery is right for you. Your doctor may check to see if:

  • You have severe symptoms of heart failure.
  • You have severe regurgitation.
  • You are having heart surgery for another problem.


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.
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
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