It’s time for mitral valve surgery, but which hospital will you choose?

When weighing options, close to home isn't always best choice

women and doc blogOnce a decision is made to have heart surgery, patients tend to favor staying close to home.

But researchers at the University of Michigan analyzed mitral valve surgery to see if patients benefit from going to a center of excellence hospital—one that specializes in the procedure and sees a high volume of patients —as opposed to a nearby community hospital.

They found that going to a center of excellence is the better option for both patients and insurers, even if it’s farther away from the patient and costs more upfront.

Frank Fazzalari, M.D., professor of cardiac surgery, working with experts at the U-M Ross School of Business and cardiac surgeon Steve Bolling, M.D., inspired the look at how decisions are made about heart surgery.

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Mitral valve repair vs replacement

“Repair is always better”

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U-M patient Perry Katsiskas believes she made the right decision in choosing to have her mitral valve repaired versus a future replacement.

Panorea (Perry) Katsiskas’ mitral valve disease didn’t slow her down. A daily exerciser, she lived an active life, relatively free of symptoms. But Perry, like many of the millions of Americans diagnosed with a degenerative version of the disease, was faced with a decision: mitral valve repair vs replacement. In other words, should she have her mitral valve repaired now or wait until her condition required complete valve replacement?

Under the care and counsel of Dr. Francis D. Pagani, surgical director of the U-M Adult Heart Transplant Program and director of the Center for Circulatory Support, Perry chose to have her valve repaired. “Dr. Pagani explained that if and when I experienced symptoms, it would likely be too late,” she says.

“I came in feeling healthy, had surgery and went home feeling healthier,” says Perry. “I felt Dr. Pagani cared about me and my outcome. And the outcome speaks for itself. Early intervention saved the quality of my life.” Continue reading