My experience with mini-invasive mitral valve surgery
I don’t need to think any more about my mitral valve prolapse and future operation. I’m a healthy man!
I was a 22 years old student when I had heard that I have a mitral valve prolaps. It was just routing echo – I was enrolled by my mentor in a study in a healthy control group. I didn’t have any symptoms at that time, no heart murmur, I served in the army. Usually I tried every new echo machine on myself (I’m a cardiologist). Somewhere 2004-2005 I saw mild regurgitation on mitral valve for the first time – I didn’t pay attention to it. Also I test every new stethoscope on myself. 1999 when I bought my previous one I didn’t hear any murmur. I’ve bought my new one 2009 and when I put it on my chest I’d heard V/VI late systolic murmur on apex. I did echo immediately: my mitral valve was not competent anymore; it wildly opened in the late systole to let blood go back from the left ventricle in the left atrium. I was steel nearly asymptomatic and next four years monitored my heart dimensions. I could play tennis two hours singles, cycling for an hour with average speed 20 km/h, but not uphill anymore; also I had some dyspnoe while walking upstairs. My heart dimensions were stable for last four years with overloading and mild hypertrophy of the left ventricle; still compensated. I felt vibration in my chest and “a heart beating” most time of the day. Then I decided to meet with Prof. Hugo Vanermen and ask him about the time of surgery.
It’s always hard to explain to a patient why he has to go for heart surgery while is mild symptomatic. I spoke with many surgeons about it and one my friend from Houston – Dr. Igor Gregoric – told me:
there is a surgeon in Belgium, his name is Hugo Vanermen, he has big experience and good results in isolated endoscopic mitral valve surgery and this could be a good solution for your patients.
I’ve remembered his words. When I had a real candidate for this kind of surgery – 60 years old lady with mitral insufficiency due to mitral valve prolapse, atrial fibrillation and pulmonary hypertension, I decided to send her medical documentation to Dr. Vanermen. Soon she was successfully operated and she feels excellent after that. Next year I sent to him another patient with two previous mitral valve surgeries and rheumatic mitral valve re-stenosis. Mini-invasive approach was good to her – she recovered very soon after the operation. That’s why I asked Dr. Vanermen about the consultation. I was ready in my mind to undergo mini-invasive surgery with the low risk without opening my chest.
After a consultation of Prof. Vanermen I decided to undergo surgery without delaying. It was standard preparing for the operation. I woke up and was extubated later on the day of the operation. In the morning my head was clear, I didn’t have any pain except from laying on my back. I could use my left hand to move myself in a bad. Next day was better – I tried to hold with my right hand too, but if was a little bit painful. I was very happy when I was transferred back to my room on the 6th floor. Every day I felt better and better: soon I could walk after all catheters and drains were removed. Every time when nurses asked me if I have any pain I answered “NO”. To the 6th postoperative day I could easy turn to my left or right side; use my both hands nearly without limitations, to put them below my head. Looking in a mirror I found places of one small incision shorter then 5 cm and several small punctures < 1 cm on the right side of my chest. They didn’t disturb me. I was discharged on the 7th day with good result of the operation confirmed by echocardiography. I already could walk for more than an hour. Two weeks after the mini-invasive operation I drove my car (there are no restrictions in Russia), spent hole day at work and all left stitches were removed. I plan to go hunting with my friends next weekend. I don’t need to think any more about my mitral valve prolapse and future operation. I’m a healthy man!