According to a new study released Sunday, inserting a clip resembling a clothespin into the heart can help doctors efficiently repair a defective mitral valve.
In the procedure which does not involve any surgery on the heart valve, doctors mounted a tool called a MitraClip on the end of a catheter and threaded it through the femoral vein in the groin into the heart, according to the study presented here at 59th annual conference of the American College of Cardiology.
A needle puncture in the wall separating the upper chambers of the heart enables the catheter to pass into the left atrium where the clip is opened up like a clothespin, said researchers.
Then, it is passed through the mitral valve into the left ventricle.
When the heart contracts, the flaps of the mitral valve fall into the clip, which then closes, pinning the flaps back together again, according to the report.
This technique enables the valve to close more effectively during contraction of the heart rather than allowing leakage of blood backward into the left atrium, the study said.
"As clinicians, we have seen our patients transformed from highly symptomatic to highly functional with a catheter procedure and without a long hospital stay or a long recovery," noted Doctor Ted Feldman, director of the cardio catheterization laboratory for North Shore University health system.
The MitraClip procedure helped 72.4 percent of those who received it, compared to a 87.8 percent success rate for surgery.
"The real excitement is seeing our experience with individual patients reflected in trial results in a clear way," he said.