The mitral valve controls blood flow through the heart. With each heartbeat, it opens to allow blood to flow into the heart’s main pumping chamber — the left ventricle. When the left ventricle contracts to push blood out through the body, the mitral valve then closes to prevent blood from flowing back into the left atrium of the heart toward the lungs. An abnormal or damaged mitral valve cannot completely seal the heart’s left ventricle, resulting in poor blood flow. In some cases, a mitral valve can be repaired with surgery that rebuilds the tissue of the “leaky” valve with the help of an artificial band that provides stability.
Traditional open heart surgery for repair or replacement of the mitral valve, requires surgeons to make a long incision and split the breast bone to reach the heart. But here at Albany Med we use smaller incisions with partial sternal splitting or through the side of the chest with minimal rib spreading. This is a highly advanced technique that is only performed at select hospitals.
Who expects a healthy 7-year-old boy to have a stroke? No one. But when it happened to Arthur he went to Albany Med to get some answers. The cause? An infection in the heart. Two surgeries later he is playing basketball in the driveway like any other kid.