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Allegheny General Hospital Introduces Minimally Invasive Robotic Mitral Valve Repair Surgery

Allegheny General Hospital's Cardiovascular Institute recently joined a select group of medical centers in the country performing robotically-assisted minimally invasive mitral valve repair surgery. The groundbreaking procedure greatly reduces trauma and other health risks and likely helps patients recover more quickly.

Robotic mitral valve surgery performed using the da Vinci Surgical System is done through just a few small incisions on the side of the chest, near the patient's arm. This approach dramatically reduces trauma to tissue and muscles compared with traditional mitral valve repair surgery, which requires a long incision in the chest wall and a separation of the breastbone at the front of the ribcage.

The mitral valve controls blood flow through the left side of the heart. When it opens, the mitral valve allows blood to flow into the left ventricle, the heart's main pumping chamber. The mitral valve closes when the left ventricle contracts to prevent blood from flowing back toward the lungs. If the mitral valve cannot tightly seal the left ventricle (a condition called prolapse), some blood flows back into the atrium which can make the heart work harder, leading to further valve damage and increasing the risk of heart failure.

Using the da Vinci system, surgeons can treat defective mitral valves as well as those damaged by infection or the aging process by reconstructing the valve from the patient's own tissues or replacing it with an artificial valve.

Robotic-assisted mitral valve repair is the latest addition to Allegheny General's robotic heart surgery program, which launched in May 2012 and was the only one of its kind in Pittsburgh.

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