The MitraClip technique has been increasingly used for correction of mitral valve regurgitation in patients in whom surgical mitral repair is considered contraindicated or very risky, but off label use occurs often. Failure of the procedure, translated into moderate to severe rates of residual or recurrent mitral regurgitation, is observed in up to one-third of the patients, and surgery has been used to correct it in a number of cases, in what can be called an “operation for the inoperable”. That is precisely the subtitle of a paper published in this issue of the JOCS by Gerfen and colleagues, who analyse their institutional experience with a series of 17 patients. In this Editorial, I comment on this series and the possible reasons for failure of the MitraClip, and on the indications for reintervention and its constraints, which I hope can contribute to the discussion about “further exploration and refinement of patient selection criteria and identify predictors for MitraClip failure”, as the authors suggest.
A 47-year-old man, with a history of aortic valve replacement 28 years earlier, was admitted to the emergency department with a right cervical mass and a superior vena cava syndrome. Thoracic angio-CT revealed a giant ascending aorta aneurysm, with an intramural thrombus and dissection flap, compressing the superior vena cava. Emergency surgery was performed, confirming those findings. The dissection had ruptured but was contained by surrounding structures, creating a false-aneurysm that compressed the superior vena cava. The aneurysm was excluded and the aorta was replaced by a Dacron conduit, thereby decompressing the upper mediastinum. The patient made an uneventful recovery.
Left ventricular free wall rupture (LVFWR) is a most rare but often lethal mechanical complication of acute myocardial infarction (AMI). The mortality rate for LVFWR is described from 75% to 90% and it is the cause for 20% of in-hospital deaths after AMI. Death results essentially from the limited time available for emergent intervention after onset of symptoms. Emergency surgery is indicated and normally the rupture site is easily identified, but it may not be apparent macroscopically, corresponding to transmyocardial or subepicardial dissection with an external rupture far from the infarction site, or already thrombosed and contained. Repair of the ventricular wall is usually achieved either by suturing the edges of the tear or closing it with patches of artificial material or biological tissues, usually using some kind of biological glue. However, several cases of successful conservative management have been described. In this Editorial, I comment on the metanalysis conducted by Matteucci et al, published in this issue of the Journal, including 11 non-randomized studies and enrolling a total of 363 patients, which brings a great deal of new knowledge that can help not only in the prevention but also in the management of this dreadful complication of AMI.