Depending on the cause, severity and symptoms of the leaking heart valve, your doctor might recommend surgical repair (reconstruction) or replacement of the mitral valve. If, due to your disease profile and physical suitability you are eligible for an operation, this method is preferable. Open-heart surgery has preference because of the good long-term results.
If it is possible to remedy your leaking heart valve and to retain your own heart valve, the surgeon will opt for reconstruction of the mitral valve. Various techniques can be chosen for mitral valve reconstruction. For instance, the valve ring can be narrowed down with a plastic ring to improve the closing of the valve. A few less invasive reconstruction techniques can even be carried out through a small incision under the right nipple.
If the mitral valve is severely damaged, it must be replaced surgically. This can be done with either a mechanical heart valve made of metal or plastic, or with the insertion of an organic heart valve prosthesis. After the insertion of a mechanical heart valve, the patient must use coagulation inhibiting (blood thinning) medicines for life. For the replacement of the mitral valve the chest is opened and the patient connected to a heart-lung machine, because the heart has to be stopped during the operation.