MitraClip Transcatheter Mitral Valve Repair FAQs

What is a transcatheter mitral valve repair (MitraClip)?

The MitraClip procedure is used to treat patients who have symptoms because of mitral regurgitation. Mitral regurgitation occurs when your heart’s mitral valve doesn’t close tightly, causing blood to flow backward or “leak” in your heart. When blood flows backward through the mitral valve, it is pushed into the lungs, increasing the workload of the heart and often causing shortness of breath.

How is a the MitraClip procedure different from traditional open heart surgery?

In traditional open heart surgery, your heart surgeon makes an incision in the center of your chest and opens your heart to repair or replace your mitral valve. You are
also placed on a heart-lung bypass machine (cardiopulmonary bypass machine) to divert blood flow from your heart while it is stopped. The MitraClip procedure does not require opening the chest or temporarily stopping your heart (cardiopulmonary bypass). Instead, doctors access your heart through a vein in your leg to repair your mitral valve. The MitraClip procedure may be an option for patients with mitral regurgitation who are too sick for surgery or considered too high risk.

What is the MitraClip device made of and how does it reduce mitral regurgitation?

The MitraClip device is a small metal clip covered with a polyester fabric that is inserted in your mitral valve. The MitraClip treats mitral regurgitation by clipping together a small area of the mitral valve (edge to edge repair). The valve will continue to open and close on either side of the clip. This allows blood to flow on both sides of the clip while reducing the flow of blood in the wrong direction. The MitraClip reduces mitral regurgitation but does not eliminate it.

How is the MitraClip procedure performed?

At the University of Michigan, the procedure is performed in the hospital, in our hybrid catheterization lab. A team of doctors work closely together to perform the procedure. They use a special X-ray machine (fluoroscopy) and ultrasound machine (transesophageal echocardiogram) to see inside your body to guide the catheter during the procedure.

The following describes the procedure:

  1. A small opening is made in a large vein in the groin area at the top of your leg (femoral vein).
  2. A long, flexible tube (thin catheter) is threaded up to your heart using ultrasound and X-Ray imaging guidance.
  3. A tool on the tip of the catheter will make a tiny hole through a thin layer of muscle (septum) that divides the chambers of your heart so the catheter can be inserted and guided to your mitral valve.
  4. The MitraClip is inserted through this catheter to the leaking part of your mitral valve.
  5. The MitraClip will grasp, pull the front and back leaflets of your mitral valve, and clip them together allowing the valve to better close.  This reduces the amount of blood leaking backwards.
  6. Once the MitraClip is placed, the doctor will remove the catheter and sheath.
  7. After your procedure is complete, your breathing tube will be removed.

What will my hospital stay be like?

After your procedure you will go to the Frankel Cardiovascular Center hybrid operating room recovery area. The length of your stay in the recovery depends on several factors, including your recovery from anesthesia. Once you are considered stable, you will be admitted to our moderate care unit.  Here our team will continue to help you recover from your procedure. Most patients are likely to stay in the hospital for 72 hours.

What are the benefits of the MitraClip procedure?

With the MitraClip procedure, you may experience the following benefits:

  • Quicker return to daily activities than with open heart surgery
  • Shortened recovery time
  • Improved quality of life approximately 4 weeks following the procedure, including the ability to return to normal daily activities
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Relief of symptoms
  • Reduced pain and anxiety
  • Improved heart function
  • Reduction in hospitalizations for heart failure

Patient Resources

Make an Appointment

To make an appointment to discuss your need for treatment for mitral valve disease or other cardiovascular treatment, call the U-M Frankel Cardiovascular Center toll-free at 888-287-1082. Visit our Make an Appointment page for more information about what to expect when you call us.