Cardiac Team at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital Performs Successful MitraClip Procedure

November 5, 2018

Procedure in Minimally Invasive Mitral Valve Repair is First for the Hospital

BALTIMORE—A team at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital and the MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute in September successfully clipped together the two flaps of a patient’s leaky mitral value using the MitraClip, a device that may soon be approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in many more patients.

The MitraClip offers a way to repair a mitral valve without open heart surgery.  The device is implanted by accessing the patient’s heart through a vein in their groin.

“This is just one of many transformational technologies that MedStar Union Memorial is now able to offer patients,” said John C. Wang, MD, chief of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory at MedStar Union Memorial and scientific director for Baltimore Cardiovascular Research. “We have patients that did not have surgical options and are now able to give them a new lease on life.”

Mitral valve regurgitation happens when the heart’s mitral valve doesn’t close tightly, allowing blood to flow backward into the heart. In severe cases left untreated, it can cause heart failure or heart arrhythmias. Symptoms include heart murmur, fatigue and shortness of breath.

In the 50-minute procedure performed Sept. 26, surgeons went in through the 79-year-old patient’s groin and through the inferior vena cava before clipping together the leaflets of the leaky mitral valve using the tiny MitraClip. The patient recovered well, went home the next day and was back at work within a few days.

Harold Dwin, the patient, said he was pleased with the outcome of the procedure and his recovery. He lived with a heart murmur for years before he found himself struggling on a hike at high altitude while on vacation in Idaho. When he returned from the trip, he was diagnosed with severe mitral valve regurgitation and sought out the heart specialists at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital.

“It changed my life enormously,” he said. “I had a serious heart condition that could have been fatal to me eventually.”

Many patients with mitral valve regurgitation are treated with open heart surgery; however some cannot undergo the procedure for various reasons. In Dwin’s case, surgeons thought open heart surgery might disrupt the six cardiac bypasses he had placed a couple decades ago. In those cases, the MitraClip is the less invasive option.

The MitraClip is currently approved for use in patients with degenerative mitral regurgitation. In September, researchers reported in a large clinical trial that the device was very effective in patients with another type of mitral valve problem – functional mitral regurgitation. Far more patients have functional mitral regurgitation than the degenerative type, and the study is expected to lead to FDA approval for the device in patients with the functional type of the disease.

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About MedStar Union Memorial Hospital

MedStar Union Memorial Hospital is a not-for-profit, 223-bed acute care teaching hospital with a strong emphasis on cardiac care, orthopaedics and sports medicine. With roots stemming back to 1854, MedStar Union Memorial has provided high quality care for 160 years. As one of the region’s top specialty hospitals, MedStar Union Memorial is home to: The Curtis National Hand Center, the largest hand center in the world, focused on the treatment of the hand and upper extremities; MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute, a premier cardiovascular program in the mid-Atlantic, aligned with Cleveland Clinic Heart and Vascular Institute, the nation’s #1 heart program; and MedStar Sports Medicine, which includes the oldest hospital based sports medicine program in Maryland (founded in 1979).  In addition, MedStar Union Memorial offers a comprehensive range of inpatient and outpatient services including oncology, diabetes and endocrinology, general surgery, thoracic surgery, vascular surgery and palliative care.

MedStar Union Memorial is accredited by The Joint Commission (TJC). It is the first hospital in Baltimore to receive spine certification by TJC, and the first in the state of Maryland to receive advanced certification for palliative care. MedStar Union Memorial is also TJC-certified in hip and knee replacement and has been designated as a Primary Stroke Center and the Hand Trauma Center for Maryland.

MedStar Union Memorial is a proud member of MedStar Health, a non-profit, regional health care system with 10 hospitals and more than 20 other health-related services in the Maryland and Washington, D.C., area.

For more information, visit MedStarUnionMemorial.org.

About the MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute

MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute is a network of highly acclaimed and nationally recognized cardiac experts and care programs spanning all 10 MedStar Health hospitals in the mid-Atlantic region. In the Baltimore area, MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute experts are accessible at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center, MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital, MedStar Harbor Hospital, MedStar Union Memorial Hospital, and more than a dozen community locations.  MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital is allied with the Cleveland Clinic, the nation’s #1 heart program, giving patients accelerated access to the most advanced research, technologies and techniques in cardiology and cardiac surgery. This alliance also strengthens excellent clinical care and enables high-level collaboration on research.

About MedStar Health

MedStar Health is a not-for-profit health system dedicated to caring for people in Maryland and the Washington, D.C., region, while advancing the practice of medicine through education, innovation and research. MedStar’s 30,000 associates, 6,000 affiliated physicians, 10 hospitals, ambulatory care and urgent care centers, and the MedStar Health Research Institute are recognized regionally and nationally for excellence in medical care. As the medical education and clinical partner of Georgetown University, MedStar trains more than 1,100 medical residents annually. MedStar Health’s patient-first philosophy combines care, compassion and clinical excellence with an emphasis on customer service. For more information, visit MedStarHealth.org.