American Family Children's Hospital

Request a second opinion

Advantages of Mitral Valve Repair vs. Replacement

Contact Information

(608) 263-1530


Our Services

Heart Valve Clinic


Internet Resources

Mitral Valve Repair (Society of Thoracic Surgeons)

Whenever possible, UW Health Heart, Vascular and Thoracic surgeons repair, rather than replace, mitral valves.
Advantages to repair:
Preservation of Heart Function

By reconstructing the original valve structure, surgeons can better retain the heart's natural shape and function.
Freedom From Lifelong Medications 

Patients who undergo mitral valve replacement must take blood thinners for the rest of their lives. Blood thinners can cause problems, and are best avoided if possible. These medications are not required in patients who have their valves repaired.
Longer Durability 

Studies have shown that 15 years after surgery, 82-87 percent of repaired valves are still working, compared with 72-82 percent of replacement valves. In addition, replacement valves from animal donors often wear out, and need to be replaced after 10-12 years.
Better Chances for Survival at the Time of Surgery 

The national average mortality rate at the time of surgery for mitral valve repair ranges from 1-2 percent, compared with 5-7 percent for replacement. (Data Source: Society for Thoracic Surgeons Fall 2004 Report Executive Summary)
In addition, recent studies have shown the benefits of early surgical intervention for mitral valve regurgitation. If the mitral valve is repaired before symptoms develop or the heart shows signs of strain, heart function can remain relatively normal over time. This allows patients to live as long as individuals without mitral valve disease.


Even for patients who already are in congestive heart failure, mitral valve repair will increase quality of life.