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What is Mitral Valve Prolapse Surgery?

By Jacquelyn Gilchrist
Updated May 17, 2024
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A mitral valve prolapse (MVP) is a heart condition. It occurs when a certain valve of the heart fails to properly close. This can lead to mitral valve regurgitation, which is blood leakage. A mitral valve prolapse involves the valve located between the left ventricle, or lower left heart chamber, and the left atrium, or left upper heart chamber. Two types of mitral valve prolapse surgery can correct this problem.

Most patients with a mitral valve prolapse do not need surgery or any other treatment, like medications. Treatment may be necessary if the patient experiences certain symptoms, such as chest pain, problems breathing after physical activity, and being short of breath while lying down. Patients may also experience coughing, fatigue, and heart palpitations, or abnormal heartbeat sensations.

Surgery may also be necessary if the doctor has determined there is a risk of complications. Severe mitral valve regurgitation may necessitate surgery in order to prevent additional complications, such as heart failure. Another possible complication is endocarditis, which is an infection of the lining of the heart. Patients with a mitral valve prolapse may have a greater risk of this potentially life-threatening complication.

If a doctor has determined that treatment is necessary, and medications will not adequately address the problem, the patient may need to prepare for surgery. Preparation for mitral valve prolapse surgery may include quitting smoking for at least two weeks prior to surgery. Smoking may cause breathing problems and blood clotting. Patients should also disclose all medications they are taking, as well as any other medical conditions. This includes having a cold or a fever, as these may increase the risk of infection.

The night before the surgery, the patient should bathe to decrease the germs on the skin. Patients may be admitted to the hospital on the day of surgery or the day prior to it. They will be given instructions regarding food and drink. The surgical area will be disinfected and the patient will be rendered unconscious with general anesthesia.

There are two possible types of mitral valve prolapse surgery used to correct this problem — valve repair and valve replacement. Valve repair surgery is used when it is possible to fix or modify the valve to allow it to close properly. If the surgeon determines that this type of mitral valve prolapse surgery is not likely to be successful, he may replace the valve instead. A valve replacement may be a mechanical device, or it may be made from animal tissues.

Both types of surgery are known as open heart surgery. A replacement valve made from animal tissues may need to be replaced in about ten to 15 years, as it can wear out. It is also possible for a mechanical valve to fail, however, they typically last for many years.

The recovery time for mitral valve prolapse surgery may be extensive. Patients typically need to stay in the hospital for about a week, and in the intensive care unit of the hospital for one to three days immediately following surgery. While it may take some patients three to six months to completely recover, patients will often be able to return to light activities in about four to six weeks. Patients may also be encouraged to participate in physical therapy, such as a cardiac rehabilitation program.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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