Eighty-five patients underwent mitral valve reconstruction by the Carpentier method from January 1976 to December 1981. Concomitant procedures were performed in 30 patients (aortic valve replacement in 23, coronary revascularisation in six, and tricuspid valve repair in seven). Before operation 76 patients (89%) were in clinical class II or III (New York Heart Association) and atrial fibrillation was present in 50. Thirty-six patients had valvular incompetence, while 26 had pure stenosis. The aetiology was rheumatic in 57 cases and dysplastic in 21. The patients were assessed for clinical improvement, durability of valve repair, thromboembolism, and survival. There was one death, an operative mortality rate of 1.2%, and 63 of 74 patients followed for one to six years were in clinical class I after operation. The actuarial survival was 92% with a 93% incidence of freedom from thromboemboli at five years. Six patients had embolic episodes, four of whom had aortic valve replacement. Three patients had a repeat operation 16-20 months later, a valve failure rate of 6.7%. Nineteen patients with ruptured chordae had postoperative echocardiographic assessment of myocardial and mitral valve functions; the peak rates of dimension changes of the left ventricular cavity (indicative of flow across the mitral valve) fell to normal in most patients, and the left ventricular end-diastolic dimensions decreased significantly from 6.4 (1.53) to 5.09 (1.31) cm (mean and SD)--p less than 0.05. Our results confirm that reconstructive mitral surgery is able to restore and maintain normal valve function in addition to providing satisfactory relief of symptoms.
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