New Procedure Repairs Mitral Valve

Shipley Cardiothoracic Center Offers Help for Patients at High Risk for Valve Replacement Surgery

(Fort Myers, Fla. – Feb. 2, 2017) --- ¬Mitral regurgitation (MR) – blood leaking back inside the heart – is caused by a faulty mitral valve and can lead to heart failure and death if untreated. Until recently, valve replacement was the only treatment option for MR, however older patients with comorbidities and other complications usually were not eligible for the surgery. Now, there is new hope for high-risk surgery patients; the team at Lee Health’s Shipley Cardiothoracic Center at HealthPark Medical Center has been performing a new MitraClip® procedure to help reduce or eliminate MR.

Currently, the procedure is performed by Brian Hummel, M.D., cardiothoracic surgeon; Murali Muppala, M.D., cardiologist; Steven Priest, M.D., cardiologist; and Lee Physician Group Cardiology.

“This new procedure offers hope to so many more people with MR,” Brian Hummel, M.D., cardiothoracic surgeon explains. “Even five years ago, I would never have believed we would be able to help these patients. I expect this (mitral clip) procedure will quickly become a prominent surgery at Shipley Cardiothoracic Center.”

Nearly one in 10 people ages 75 and older has moderate or severe MR; it is the most frequent valve disease in the United States. Mitral regurgitation can be related to age, a birth defect or underlying heart disease. Patients with moderate or severe MR are often undertreated because they are considered too high risk for surgery or they choose not to have the surgery. Replacement of the mitral valve involves an open-chest surgery that usually requires a week’s stay in the hospital and several weeks for recovery, including cardiac rehabilitation.

The new clip procedure is less invasive than traditional open-heart surgery, reducing recovery time; some patients have gone home just two days after their procedure. Using a catheter inserted in the groin and threaded through the femoral vein to the heart, the surgeon positions a clip to connect the two leaflets of the valve where the leakage is occurring, thereby reducing or eliminating leakage. Using echocardiography and fluoroscopy to view the heart and valve, the surgeon can see immediately if adjustments need to be made to the clip’s position, or if additional clips are needed to further reduce MR.

Don Keatley, a 74-year-old cardiac patient in Fort Myers, said he could “breathe again” as soon as he woke up from his recent MitraClip procedure. Dr. Hummel used two clips to repair Keatley’s leaking valve. Despite an allergic reaction to medication following the clip procedure that lengthened his hospital stay by a few days, Keatley says he was surprised by the relatively short recovery time. He had quadruple bypass surgery several years ago, and says “Recovering from bypass surgery was a completely different thing; it was major.” Just a week after his procedure, Keatley was talking about getting back to cardiac rehab, and the golf course.

Patients previously diagnosed with MR who did not meet eligibility requirements for valve replacement, may be eligible for the new transcatheter mitral valve repair procedure as a treatment option. For more information, call Shipley Cardiothoracic Center at 239-343-6341, or visit

Cutline: An illustration of the clip in place connecting the two leaflets of the mitral valve that previously did not close properly, causing leakage.

About Lee Health

Since the opening of the first hospital in 1916, Lee Health has been a health care leader in Southwest Florida, constantly evolving to meet the needs of the community. A non-profit, integrated health care services organization, Lee Health is committed to the well-being of every individual served, focused on healthy living and maintaining good health. Staffed by caring people, inspiring health, services are conveniently located throughout the community in four acute care hospitals, two specialty hospitals, outpatient centers, walk-in medical centers, primary care and specialty physician practices and other services across the continuum of care. Learn more at

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