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Mitral Valve Regurgitation (Mitral Insufficiency)

Clinical Heart and Vascular Center

UT Southwestern Medical Center’s heart specialists have the skill, experience, and advanced techniques and technologies needed to expertly diagnose and treat mitral valve regurgitation and improve quality of life.

Our Department of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery is one of the nation’s leading programs, offering a variety of treatments for mitral valve regurgitation, including minimally invasive surgery.

Experts in the Latest Treatments for Mitral Valve Regurgitation

Mitral valve regurgitation, also known as mitral insufficiency, is a heart valve condition in which a problem with the mitral valve’s structure allows blood to flow from the left ventricle back into the left atrium when the valve should be closed. This backflow causes a pressure or volume overload in the left atrium, eventually causing lung vessel congestion.

UT Southwestern’s heart surgeons are experts in minimally invasive approaches to valve surgery. We’ve performed more of these procedures than others in North Texas, and UT Southwestern is leading the advancement of additional treatments such as the MitraClip procedure.

UT Southwestern also offers a dedicated Cardiac Rehabilitation Program. Cardiac rehabilitation is a critical component of recovery and can prevent future heart disease.

Causes of Mitral Valve Regurgitation

Mitral valve regurgitation can be caused by conditions such as:

  • Coronary artery disease: Diseased or damaged blood vessels in the heart, causing decreased heart oxygenation and reduced valve blood flow
  • Endocarditis: An infection of the valve that can perforate or otherwise damage it
  • Mitral valve prolapse or click-murmur syndrome: Often the result of extra chordae tendinae
  • Rheumatic heart disease: Damaged heart valves and heart failure in patients with a history of rheumatic fever
  • Ruptured chordae tendinae: Prevents the movement of one or more mitral valve leaflets

Symptoms of Mitral Valve Regurgitation

Symptoms of mitral insufficiency typically include:

  • Edema: Severe fluid retention in the legs or abdomen can indicate right-sided heart failure.
  • Shortness of breath: Inability to breathe normally during exertion, while lying flat, or while sleeping can indicate left-heart failure.

Mitral Valve Regurgitation Diagnosis

UT Southwestern’s heart doctors use several tests to determine the problem. Common diagnostic tests include:

  • Cardiac catheterization: To determine left ventricle function, degree of regurgitation, and lung vessel pressures
  • Chest X-ray: To evaluate heart enlargement
  • Echocardiography (echo or cardiac ultrasound): To visualize the mitral valve and determine the cause of alteration
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG): To evaluate heart rhythm and look for evidence of left-ventricle hypertrophy
  • Physical exam: Includes listening with a stethoscope for a holosystolic blowing murmur

Treatment

Treatment options for people with mitral insufficiency include:

  • Intra-aortic balloon pump: A device placed in the thoracic aorta to increase coronary artery blood flow and reduce the workload on the heart by decreasing the afterload
  • Medications: To relieve symptoms, digitalis drugs to treat atrial fibrillation; diuretics to reduce congestion and volume overload; vasodilators to treat acute symptoms; or anticoagulants to prevent clot formation
  • Mitral valve repair: To eliminate foreign valve placement and lessen the need for ongoing anticoagulation drugs
  • Mitral valve replacement: To prevent significant muscular dysfunction
  • Cardiothoracic surgery: To treat related conditions such as progressive heart failure, heart enlargement, and ruptured chordae tendinae

Clinical Trials

As one of the nation’s top academic medical centers, UT Southwestern offers a number of clinical trials aimed at improving the outcomes of patients with cardiovascular disease.

Clinical trials often give patients access to leading-edge treatments that are not yet widely available. Eligible patients who choose to participate in one of UT Southwestern’s clinical trials can receive treatments years before they are available to the public. 

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