The Heart and Vascular Institute

Structural Heart Program 

St. Anthony's Structural Heart Program offers Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) and the MitraClip heart valve repair procedure.

Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR)

For patients with severe aortic stenosis (narrowing of the aortic valve) who are moderate to high-risk  for open-heart surgery, transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) may be an option.

During this minimally invasive procedure, a team of doctors inserts a new aortic valve inside the patient’s diseased valve. The valve is guided to its location via a catheter, through a small incision in the leg.

In most instances, patients are able to resume their normal lifestyle more quickly than with traditional surgery. They enjoy an improved quality of life, including less pain with exertion.

Patients with questions about the TAVR procedure should call (314) 880-6644.

MitraClip Heart Valve Repair Procedure

St. Anthony’s is one of a select few hospitals in the St. Louis area to offer MitraClip Percutaneous Mitral Valve Repair, a solution for certain patients who are diagnosed with severe mitral regurgitation or mitral insufficiency due to a leaky mitral heart valve. 

During the minimally invasive MitraClip procedure, a tiny clip is inserted through a vein in the leg and placed on leaflets of the patient’s mitral valve, pinching them together like a clothespin. 

The mitral valve separates the heart from the lungs. When it leaks and the heart contracts, blood flows backward to the lungs instead of forward to the body. It is common for people to have a mild to moderate leak of the heart valve that often is of little consequence. Cardiologists are concerned about severe leaks, which cause the heart to work much harder, and raise the risk of irregular heartbeat, stroke and heart failure. 

The best option is for a heart surgeon to repair the mitral valve, but some patients are at high risk for open-heart surgery. This includes those who are older, those who have had prior open-heart operations, or those who have weak heart function or other medical problems that would make recovery difficult from an open-heart operation.

In the past, the only repair option for high-risk patients was medication, which does not do well in the long run. Studies have shown that patients who have the MitraClip procedure feel better and have better heart function and less heart failure.

The complex procedure begins with a comprehensive evaluation of the patient and requires the work of at least four physicians. These include:
  • a cardiac anesthesiologist who puts the patient to sleep and monitors them during the procedure
  • a cardiologist who specializes in cardiac ultrasound to image the patient’s heart and guide clip placement to the precise location
  • two doctors actually performing the clip procedure, usually a cardiac surgeon and a cardiologist who specializes in catheter-based cardiac procedures
Not all patients with mitral insufficiency qualify for the procedure. To learn more about St. Anthony’s Heart and Vascular Institute and the MitraClip procedure, call (314) 880-6644.

Possible causes of a leaky mitral valve:

  • Broken tissue cords
  • Too much valve tissue
  • Heart enlargement
Symptoms of severe mitral regurgitation:
  • shortness of breath during exertion
  • chest pressure
  • coughing
  • fatigue
  • heart palpitations
  • congestion around the heart and lungs
  • swelling of the legs and feet

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