Mercy Health — Lourdes Hospital’s structural heart program recently achieved several firsts for the region. The hospital now offers transcatheter mitral valve repair utilizing MitraClip. The accomplishment comes just weeks after the region’s first mitral valve-in-valve replacement. Mercy Health — Lourdes Hospital becomes the first and only facility in Western Kentucky and Southern Illinois offering both less-invasive treatments for those not suited for open-heart surgery. Interventional cardiologist Abdelkader Almanfi, MD, performed the procedure at Lourdes.

The repair of the mitral valve is a simple procedure that fixes issues without open-heart surgery. During the procedure, doctors access the mitral valve with a thin tube (called a catheter) that is guided through a vein in the leg to reach the heart. A device known as a MitraClip is implanted onto the mitral valve to help it close more completely. While the valve continues to open and close on either side of the clip, blood continues to flow on both sides, reducing backward movement and restoring normal blood flow through the heart.

Like the procedure for mitral valve repair, the procedure for mitral valve-in-valve replacement is also accomplished utilizing a small catheter. The intent of the procedure is to replace a dysfunctional mitral valve without the need of open-heart surgery. Through the catheter, the doctor advances a balloon-mounted valve that is implanted using X-ray and heart ultrasound guidance into the mitral position. Once inflated, the new valve immediately begins reducing backward flow. Dr. Almanfi performed the inaugural replacement procedure earlier this month and this week performed the area’s first mitral valve repair utilizing the MitraClip. He said he is proud to be part of bringing these latest breakthroughs to the community.

"I feel very honored to lead our new structural heart team and to help Lourdes become a national leader in transcatheter mitral valve treatment options” Dr. Almanfi said. “Previously, either of these procedures performed locally would have required the opening of the chest or needing to stop the patient’s heart during the procedure. For the minimally-invasive options we now offer, patients would have had to travel to Nashville. We are bringing advanced care to patients closer to where they live."

The respective patients who received the mitral valve repair and valve-in-valve replacement each recovered quickly. “Both reported feeling better immediately,” Dr. Almanfi said.

Mitral valve disease is very common, three to four times more common than aortic valve disease. “This condition is often under-treated, which is why we committed to bringing this expertise to the region,” said Ashley Britton, Lourdes’ director of cardiovascular services. “I wish to congratulate Dr. Almanfi and our entire structural heart team for yet more milestones that prevent patients in our region from needing to travel hours away to receive this type of care."

The addition of the mitral valve options at Lourdes follows last month’s first TAVR procedure at the facility. TAVR is a minimally-invasive option for replacing an aortic valve. Dr. Almanfi recently joined Mercy Health — Heart and Vascular Institute, Cardiology (1532 Lone Oak Rd, Suite 415 Paducah) and additionally became the medical director for Lourdes’ structural heart program. Dr. Almanfi is an interventional cardiologist, endovascular and structuralist who brought to Mercy Health his experience with hundreds of TAVR, TMVR and MitraClip cases, among other structural heart procedures. Dr. Almanfi specializes in minimally-invasive and non-surgical approaches to structural heart problems.

For more information concerning Mercy Health — Lourdes Hospital’s structural heart program, contact Mercy Health — Heart and Vascular Institute, Cardiology at 270-442-0103.