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The MMC Cardiovascular Institute’s Valve Program is a partnership of imaging cardiologists, interventional cardiologists and cardiac surgeons who evaluate patients for a variety of appropriate treatment for their heart valve conditions. They perform some of the most complex and advanced surgical and non-surgical procedures currently available.

The program has grown significantly in recent years as treatments and procedures continue to advance. Our comprehensive program now offers progressive options in traditional open heart surgery as well as minimally-invasive procedures that allows some of even the sickest of patients to undergo treatment.

MMC has always been on the forefront of heart valve disease treatment, performing Maine’s first valve replacement in 1962 – just three years after the world’s first successful valve replacement at the National Institute of Health in 1959.

Currently, The Cardiovascular Institute has made great advances in two procedures:

Treating Heart Valve Disease
Some valve problems are minor and do not require treatment. Others, depending on how severe they are, may involve treatment with medication, or surgery to repair or replace the valve.

The purpose of treating heart valve disease is to protect the valves from further damage, to prevent or relieve the symptoms of other related heart conditions and, when symptoms become severe or life-threatening, to repair or replace faulty valves.

Surgical treatment options – Surgical options include heart valve repair or replacement with traditional open-heart surgery.  When valve replacement is necessary, there are two kinds of prosthetic (artificial or substitute) heart valves available today:

  • mechanical valves that are created from man-made materials
  • biological valves taken from animal or human donors

MMC’s cardiac surgeons have unparalleled experience in heart valve surgery, performing more of these surgical procedures than any other hospital in Maine. For appropriate patients, valve repair is the optimal treatment, and MMC’s cardiac surgeons are some of New England’s most experienced and respected in this procedure.

Minimally invasive treatment options – Minimally invasive approaches offer appropriate patients an alternative to traditional open surgery, and the benefits of smaller incisions, less blood loss and faster recovery.

The Cardiovascular Institute is participating in a national clinical trial to test a minimally invasive approach for treating mitral valve regurgitation. During this procedure, which is performed in the Cath Lab, a special metal clip (MitraClip®) is delivered via catheter and attached to the flaps (leaflets) of the mitral valve. The doctor adjusts the clip placement to achieve optimal blood flow and pressures through the valve, then releases the clip and withdraws the catheter. The clip holds the valve leaflets in place, limiting leakage.

This procedure is complex and challenging, and involves echocardiographers, interventional cardiologists, anesthesiologists and other team members – a collaborative approach that is the hallmark of cardiac care at MMC. Patients who are candidates for traditional open mitral valve surgery at MMC are carefully evaluated to see if this non-surgical approach is appropriate for them.