Epworth performs first MitraClip valve repair on heart patient

MitraClip valve and MitraClip

A tiny clip is making a huge difference to the lives of patients with heart valve disease.

On Monday 1 August, cardiologist A/Prof Tony Walton and his team performed Epworth’s first percutaneous MitraClip at Epworth Richmond.

The MitraClip system is used to treat mitral regurgitation (MR), the most common form of mitral valve disease, in which blood leaks backwards into the left atrial chamber. Over time, the condition can place additional pressure on the heart which has to pump harder to circulate blood around the body, leading to fatigue, shortness of breath and worsening heart failure.

While open-heart surgery has been the traditional treatment option for MR patients, the MitraClip system allows for a minimally-invasive approach, using insertion through a catheter to the heart, meaning no chest incisions are necessary.

Less invasive than open-heart surgery

The procedure is much less invasive than open-heart surgery and results in reductions in the degree of mitral regurgitation,” says Professor Walton. “This usually results in improved breathing and exercise tolerance.”

“During the procedure the clip is pushed into the heart valve and positioned under the leak, pinning the flapping valve leaflets together and reducing the backward flow of blood. The clip’s positioning can be assessed in real-time and adjustments made if necessary without damage to the surrounding tissue.

Epworth’s first MitraClip patient

“Epworth’s first MitraClip recipient was John, a retired doctor in his early 80s who was suffering from shortness of breath as a result of his MR. John had previously undergone open-heart surgery and wanted to avoid doing so again,” Prof Walton added.

John’s MitraClip procedure went extremely well and he was able to be discharged just two days post procedure. John says he’s noticed a change in his health already.

“I certainly have much more zest for life,” he says. “I want to get up and get going, where before it was a burden for me to do things.”

A/Prof Walton expects to treat around 15 patients a year at Epworth with the MitraClip system.

Image, L to R: MitraClip valve and MitraClip device after placement in the mitral position. Images courtesy of Abbott Vascular.