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First 'Closed Heart' Minimally-Invasive Mitral Valve Repair Performed On Long Island


46 year-old Shoreham woman can
decorate for the holidays for the
first time in 3 years

Two weeks ago, Denise Rocker, 46, did not have the energy to walk up and down a flight of stairs in her Shoreham home; she could not make more than three passes with the lawn mower before she had to sit down for a rest. Last Friday, her neighbor got nervous when he saw her sleeping against a tree.

"He came right over to check on me?he thought I was dead," she said. "Turns out I had a minor heart attack ? that makes five since my first in 1990."

Denise was rushed to her community hospital and transferred to Stony Brook University Medical Center for cardiac catheterization by cardiologist, Ravina Balchandani, M.D., who told Rocker her mitral regurgitation (MR) condition, which she had been managing with medication for six years, had reached the point where it required immediate intervention. Dr. Balchandani encouraged Rocker not to wait, not to leave the hospital before receiving the appropriate care.

"Denise?s progression was such that she needed to be treated immediately to enhance her chances for improvement," she said.

"I got scared when Dr. Balchandani told me I couldn?t come back to fix it after Christmas," said Rocker. "But I believed her when she said I needed to have it done right away."

Dr. Balchandani introduced Rocker to Todd Rosengart, M.D., Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery at SBUMC, who together with Tom Bilfinger, M.D., and Smadar Kort, M.D., are primary investigators in an FDA regulated research study called RESTOR-MV (Randomized Evaluation of a Surgical Treatment for Off-pump Repair for the Mitral Valve). The RESTOR-MV is a prospective, randomized clinical trial that will include up to 25 centers in North America and up to 250 patients. Stony Brook is the only participating center on Long Island; Rocker is the first patient on Long Island to undergo the procedure.

Rocker was initially uncertain about agreeing to surgery because of what she?d seen her father go through when he had quadruple bypass at a young age. (Rocker also had 100% blockage in her distal right coronary artery and had to undergo triple bypass surgery when she went in for the valve repair procedure.)

"Dr. Rosengart was down to earth," she said. "He was very decisive and knew what had to be done. After seeing the echo he told me I was an excellent candidate, but I still wasn?t sure. Then I found out that MYOCOR, the company that makes the device is based in Maple Grove, Minnesota. My brother moved there two years ago, and I thought, ?okay, this is a sign, I?ll do it.?"

"Denise had mitral regurgitation (MR), a condition in which the mitral valve does not adequately close resulting in the blood flowing backwards from the left ventricle back into the atrium and pulmonary vasculature," says Rosengart. "The result of this backward flow is that the heart has to work harder without proportional benefit to the body."

As part of the RESTOR-MV trial, Dr. Rosengart implanted the Coapsys device on Rocker?s beating heart without the use of cardiopulmonary bypass (heart-lung machine) and without needing to make an incision to open her heart for the repair. The device is intended to reduce the amount of blood flowing improperly backwards from her left ventricle.

Two days following MR repair and triple bypass surgery, Denise was walking up and down a flight of stairs as part of her rehabilitation ? something she struggled with for over three years. She expects to be discharged within a week of the surgery.

"We?re very proud of Denise; she did very well," said Dr. Rosengart.

Rocker, who has been entertaining the nurses with her battery operated Christmas bulb necklace during her hospital stay, is looking forward to being discharged and to putting up real holiday lights at home.

"I have not been able to put up Christmas decorations for the past three years because I keep them upstairs and it was too hard to go up and down," said Denise. "If I had waited, like I wanted, I wouldn?t have been able to decorate this year either. Now I?m going home and I?m finally going to be able to decorate this year."

For more information about the RESTOR-MV trial, contact Eileen Finnin, RN, Clinical Research Coordinator in the Department of Surgery at Stony Brook University Medical Center at 631-444-5454.

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