MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – A team of physicians at the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute became the first in the state to implant a new minimally invasive device for the treatment of a leaking mitral valve, called mitral regurgitation. Three patients who were otherwise unable to undergo open heart surgical repair had the MitraClip device inserted using a catheter by a team that included Vinay Badhwar, M.D., Mohamad Alkhouli, M.D., James Mills, M.D., Wissam Gharib, M.D., and Bradford Warden, M.D.

The mitral valve, located between the two left chambers of the heart, has two flaps of tissue, called leaflets, which open and close to ensure that blood flows in only one direction. If the leaflets do not close completely, the blood leaks backward inside the heart, causing an extra burden on the heart and lungs. If left untreated, this can cause an enlarged heart and heart failure. Depending upon the severity, mitral regurgitation is often treated with surgery to either repair or replace the valve. Patients who are not candidates for open-heart surgery due to other medical conditions or elevated risk may be eligible to receive the FDA-approved MitraClip device.

During the procedure, called transcatheter mitral valve repair, doctors access the heart using a catheter inserted into a vein in the leg. The device is a small clip that is attached to the mitral valve to help the mitral valve to close more completely and restore normal blood flow through the heart. The procedure does not require incisions in the chest or use of the heart-lung machine.

On Monday (Aug. 23), the three patients received this life-saving therapy as part of the comprehensive Center for Mitral Valve Disease program at the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute. The WVU Heart and Vascular Institute is comprised of an integrated team of cardiovascular surgeons and cardiologists who are considered national experts in their field, working closely together to bring the most state-of-the-art therapies to patients from West Virginia and the surrounding region.

Visit WVU Medicine Clinical Advances to watch Dr. Badhwar describe the benefits of the MitraClip procedure.