By Adam Pick on September 11, 2018
There are LOTS of great advances happening in the treatment of heart valve disease. Many of those technological breakthroughs enable cardiologists and surgeons to perform life-saving procedures with smaller-and-smaller incisions.
As you might recall, one of the big breakthroughs in valve therapy was the FDA approval of the da Vinci Surgical System to perform robotic mitral valve repair procedures for patients with mitral valve regurgitation in 2002. Since then, we have collectively learned a lot about robotic surgery from leading clinicians including Drs. Chitwood, Trento, Gillinov, Mihaljevic and Badhwar.
Recently, I’ve received several great questions about robotic mitral valve surgery. For that reason, I felt it was time to get an update about robotic technology. I wanted an expert opinion, so I reached out Dr. T. Sloane Guy at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City. Dr. Guy is a robotic specialist that has helped many patients from our patient community. Here are the highlights from our recent exchange.
By Adam Pick on April 5, 2018
An unexpected gift just occurred in my life.
While on Spring Break with my family in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, I had the extraordinary pleasure of meeting… Not one… Not two… But, three heart valve patients. Here’s what happened:
First, I met Mike from New Jersey. Mike is a heart valve replacement patient who suffered from aortic stenosis. Like so many patients in our community, Mike was mis-diagnosed several times. It wasn’t until he was severely symptomatic and the valve was almost completely closed that Mike got help.
By Adam Pick on February 19, 2018
The response to our webinar, “Advantages of Mitral Valve Repair”, has been extraordinary. Hosted by Dr. Patrick McCarthy, Dr. James Thomas and myself, this 60-minute session connected patients from all over the world in real-time to discuss mitral valve disease and treatment options including mitral valve repair techniques.
If you missed the webinar, I just posted a free 52-page eBook. If you – or someone you love – has mitral valve disease, I really encourage you, your family and your friends to read this eBook or watch the webinar video below. There were many important points raised during this webinar that some patients are not properly educated about.
By Adam Pick on January 18, 2018
The possibility of heart valve “re-operations” is known within our community. As patients, we hope that only one valve procedure is needed during our lifetime. However, the reality is that patients may need one or more re-operations.
Specific to this topic… Jeanie recently asked me, “Hi, Adam. I’m 63 years old. I just had mitral valve repair surgery performed in April of 2017. Now, a few months later, I have moderate to severe leakage again. Can this be re-repaired or do I need to have it replaced?”
To answer Jeanie’s question, I was very lucky to interview Dr. David Adams who is the Cardiac Surgeon-in-Chief of the Mount Sinai Health System in New York. If you didn’t know, Dr. Adams is a mitral valve guru who started the Mitral Conclave Conference and co-wrote the book, Carpentier’s Reconstructive Valve Surgery. In addition, Dr. Adams has successfully treated over 100 patients in our community including Sophie Marsh, Brian Walsh and so many others.
By Adam Pick on August 10, 2017
I’m a big fan of simple and thoughtful advice for patients. So, when I learned about this new study, “Relation of Mitral Valve Surgery Volume to Repair Rate, Durability & Survival”, in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, I wanted to share it with our community.
The study, which is featured at Consumer Reports, reveals that patients who chose surgeons with deep experience in performing a complex mitral valve procedure have a better chance of living longer and not needing additional procedures to correct the problem.
The lead author of the study, Dr. Joanna Chikwe, stated, “The very high volume surgeons tended to have outstanding outcomes”.
I think one of the most interesting points of this study focuses on the average number of mitral valve procedures performed annually by surgeons. Get this… The median number of mitral valve procedures performed by the surgeons studied was only 10 operations per year. That’s it. And, most importantly, those patients whose surgeons performed at least 25 surgeries per year had much higher survival rates and fewer complications, the study found.
In talking with many patients, nurses, cardiologists, and surgeons over the years, the concept of volume has come up several times. It makes sense. The more you do something… The better you do it. That said, this point should not be lost.
As for choosing a heart surgeon, Consumer Reports suggests there are 3 tips for patients to get the best surgical results:
- Talk to your cardiologist – You cardiologist should be intimately familiar with the surgeon you are being referred to.
- Ask your potential surgeon detailed questions – I encourage you to write down your questions before the consult. As I remember, it’s easy for patients to get flustered during a consult. It helps having the questions written down. You may also want to record the Q&A session on your smartphone.
- Pay attention to past results – A big one. Ask your surgeons for their results specific to your form of valve disease. Not all forms of valve disease are the same. You may also want to ask for patient referrals.
Picking the right surgeon is so important… I recently filmed this video with Dr. Kevin Accola at Florida Hospital Orlando to discuss the most important questions that patients should ask their surgeons.
I know this is a lot of information to digest. However, picking the right surgeon is a bit more difficult than finding a hair stylist. I really hope these ideas help you better prepare for your mitral valve therapy!
Keep on tickin!