Diagnosed by pcp at Univ Colo Hospital in 2010 with severe mitral regurg from echocardiogram. Ejection fraction was 60%. Told no worries unless ejection fraction drops to 50%.
In 2016 echo shows left atrium enlarging significantly. No symptoms but the echo can't be ignored. Also waiting for the EF to drop to 50% is not a current guideline. Have since switched to a new PCP.
Since I am still symptom free, I have taken extra time to research surgeons and hospitals in order to be more prepared when the time comes.
Had stress echo in December 2016 which showed almost normal exercise tolerance and 60-70% ejection fraction but left atrium continues to enlarge and regurg is severe. Cardiologist recommends going ahead with repair of the mitral valve.
Have interviewed 3 surgeons who offer small incision MV repair (not robotic). All have received favorable mention here at this website. All make an incision under the right armpit between 2 ribs and go from there.
My preference is John Mehall who has 14 years experience doing small incision and robotic surgery.
Dr. John Mehall can do small 3 inch incision surgery assisted with a very small video camera which allows him to go in between the ribs under the right armpit without spreading the ribs. He then watches on the video display as he performs the procedure. The other 2 docs use direct vision (no camera) so they spread the ribs (which risks breaking them) for a better view.
Mehall also uses only one drainage tube the diameter of a BIC pen. Other docs might use up to 3 drain tubes.
He numbs the incision area with 24hr local anesthetic so it does not hurt as much when you wake up.
50% of his patients have the breathing tube removed before leaving the OR. The rest have it removed after a couple of hours in the ICU.
Dr. Mehall also says time on the bypass pump is the same as a sternotomy method. The other docs need some extra time if using small incision method.
Next steps are finish scheduled dental work and get angiogram and MRI to confirm small incision MV repair approach is OK.