Mitral Valve Disease

Mitral Valve Disease

Mitral Valve Prolapse, Mitral Stenosis, Mitral Regurgitation

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Duke cardiologists work with you to manage your mitral valve disease, and our heart surgeons specialize in procedures to repair and replace damaged valves, using minimally invasive techniques when appropriate. Our experience and skill with the latest treatment options ensure you get the right treatment and help improve your quality of life.

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About Mitral Valve Disease

Diseases that affect the mitral valve – one of four heart valves that control blood flow through the heart -- can be treated with lifestyle changes and medication in their early stages. These treatments may prevent your disease from progressing. Left untreated, mitral valve disease can affect your quality of life and become life-threatening. 

Surgery may become necessary when your mitral valve is significantly narrowed or no longer opens properly (mitral valve stenosis), or when your mitral valve no longer closes properly, causing it to leak and allow blood to flow backward into your heart (mitral valve regurgitation).

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Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.



Medications can reduce the symptoms and lower the risks associated with mitral valve disease. May include beta blockers to relax blood vessels and improve blood flow, as well as aspirin and/or blood thinners to reduce your risk for blood clots.


If surgery is the best option for you, your doctor may recommend open-heart surgery -- accessing the heart via an incision in the chest -- for the repair or replacement of the mitral valve.


Surgeons access the heart and replace the mitral valve through a small incision between the ribs. The minimally invasive approach may result in less blood loss, lower infection risk, and less scarring. Minimally invasive surgery will also shorten your recovery.

Balloon Valvuloplasty

In this procedure, a catheter is used to thread a balloon across the narrowed heart valve. The balloon is inflated to open the narrowed valve. This procedure is performed on patients whose risk may be too high for traditional mitral valve surgery.

Percutaneous (Catheter-Based) Mitral Valve Repair

Interventional cardiologists use a catheter to access the heart in patients whose health risks are too high for open-heart surgery and who are experiencing symptoms of mitral valve regurgitation. A clip-like device is passed through the catheter and inserted to secure the valve opening and prevent blood from flowing back into the heart. Our involvement in ongoing clinical trials allows us to expand the use of this device to patients who have moderate disease and lower risk levels.

Hybrid Procedures

When appropriate, we combine valve repairs or replacements with other procedures, such as angioplasty, in our fully equipped hybrid operating room. Having two procedures at once may reduce your risk for complications and helps you recover faster.

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Cardiac Tests

Electrocardiogram (ECG)

Small electrodes are placed on your skin to record your heart’s electrical impulses. The tracings may help identify risk for or prior heart muscle damage.


An ultrasound probe is moved over the surface of your chest to capture moving images of your heart. This allows us to determine your heart’s chamber dimensions, shape, valve structures, and overall function.

3-D Transesophogeal Echocardiogram

An ultrasound probe passed through your esophagus is used to capture sound waves that create highly detailed, close-up 3-D images of your heart’s chamber dimensions, shape, valve structures, and overall function.

Cardiac MRI

Radio waves, magnets, and a computer create still and moving images of your overall heart structure, heart muscle function, blood vessels, and surrounding structures.

Cardiac Catheterization

Flexible tubes called catheters are guided through a blood vessel to your heart to look for blockages and overall heart function. Contrast dye is injected and X-rays are taken to capture images of your heart, coronary arteries, and other blood vessels.

Best Heart Hospital in NC
When it comes to your heart care, you want the very best. Duke University Hospital's nationally ranked cardiology and heart surgery program is ranked the best in North Carolina by U.S. News & World Report for 2019–2020.

Why Choose Duke

Advanced Tools for Accurate Diagnosis
We use 3-D transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) to create highly detailed, up-close images of the valves and chambers as well as the pumping action of your moving heart.

More Repairs than Replacements
When possible, our surgeons opt to repair the mitral valve rather than replace it. As a result, you are less likely to require blood thinners and undergo repeat procedures.

Access to Novel Treatments
Duke participates in clinical trials of the latest minimally invasive mitral valve procedures.

More Minimally Invasive Valve Treatment Options
Our surgeons are ranked among the world’s leaders in mini-thoracotomy procedures, a minimally invasive technique used for valve repair. The use of smaller incisions, rather than mid-chest incision, reduces blood loss, scarring, and the risk of infection while speeding your recovery time.

A Choice in Heart Valve Replacements
If you need a heart valve replacement, we offer mechanical valves that are made of carbon, as well as tissue valves that are made from animal tissue. We educate you on the pros and cons of each and work with you to determine which option is best for you.

Support for Your Recovery
After mitral valve surgery, our cardiac prevention and rehabilitation team provides a personalized plan for recovery and long-term management of your heart health, including exercise instruction, nutritional counseling, and more.

Reviewed: 08/30/2018