A unique piece of surgical equipment, the mitral valve retractor is designed specifically to assist surgeons conducting a mitral valve surgery.
The mitral valve is a very small valve located between the left heart chambers which lets blood flow through in a single direction.
When the valve doesn’t close, or becomes stiff, this is life threatening and requires open heart surgery to fix it.
“This mitral valve retractor is used mainly on older children or young adults. At the RCH we conduct about 20 mitral valve repairs per year, and most of these patients are Indigenous Australian children presenting with rheumatic heart disease,” said Professor Christian Brizard, Director of the Cardiac Surgery Unit.
Rheumatic heart disease is a serious disease of the heart where one or more of the four heart valves is affected.
This results from acute rheumatic fever which means the heart lining swells and causes lingering damage.
The incidence of rheumatic heart disease in the Indigenous Australian population is one of the highest in the world.
With the new mitral valve retractor, cardiac surgeons have greater visibility and stability of the surgical area as well as reducing the need for other additional assistance during the procedure.
The equipment will ensure that children from right across Australia can have this specialised surgery.
“We are always grateful to the Victorian community for their generosity in helping to fund advanced equipment which enables us to perform life-saving surgery – thank you,” said Christian.
The Mitral Valve Retractor is one of 25 vital pieces of equipment that will be upgraded at The Royal Children’s Hospital thanks to the community’s support of the 2021 Good Friday Appeal.