Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital first in southeast to receive highest recognition from American Heart Association and The Mitral Foundation for mitral valve repair excellence

Jan. 25, 2021

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Josh Brown
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On left, Douglas Murphy, MD, professor of surgery at Emory University School of Medicine and medical director of surgical robotics at Emory Saint Joseph's Hospital, and on right, Michael Halkos, MD, professor of surgery at Emory University School of Medicine and chief of cardiothoracic surgery at Emory Healthcare.

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ATLANTA – The American Heart Association (AHA) and The Mitral Foundation have designated Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital as a Mitral Valve Repair Reference Center, a recognition awarded to hospitals that have shown excellence in clinical outcomes and performance in mitral valve repairs.

Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital is the first hospital in the southeast to receive the designation.

"This is a well-deserved recognition from The Mitral Foundation and the American Heart Association. We have developed highly specialized teams to provide the best care possible to patients with mitral valve disease," says Michael Halkos, MD, professor of surgery at Emory University School of Medicine and chief of cardiothoracic surgery at Emory Healthcare, which operates one of the largest cardiothoracic (CT) surgery programs in the country and the largest in Georgia. "Emory Saint Joseph’s has long been recognized as a premier mitral valve repair center with one of the highest volume and best quality programs in the country. Patients routinely travel from all over the United States to have their mitral valve surgery at Emory."

In order to receive the designation, a hospital must perform at least 50 index mitral valve repair procedures per year for the most recent three years and have at least one surgeon who has performed a minimum of 25 index mitral valve repair procedures per year for the most recent two years. More than 150 such procedures were performed at Emory Saint Joseph's Hospital in the most recent year. 

The procedures are operations for primary (degenerative) mitral valve disease with prolapse, excluding severe mitral annular calcification (MAC) and leaflet calcification, with or without concomitant (or associated) operations.

"This is a tribute to the teamwork of the cardiac surgical service at Emory Saint Joseph’s hospital. Nurses, perfusionists, anesthesia team members, surgeons and clinical staff make results like these possible," says Douglas Murphy, MD, professor of surgery at Emory University School of Medicine and medical director of surgical robotics at Emory Saint Joseph's Hospital. Murphy has performed thousands of mitral valve repairs over the years.

The AHA and the Mitral Foundation established the designation this year in an effort to increase the number of patients who receive mitral valve reconstruction where appropriate, rather than replacement, which has been associated with higher rates of death or complications within five years after surgery. Clinical guidelines recommend mitral valve repair over replacement for better patient outcomes.

"This program empowers patients to access better quality care by identifying the best mitral valve repair surgeons and centers near them, based on consistent and objective criteria," says David H. Adams, MD, Mitral Foundation president and the Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis professor and chair of the department of cardiovascular surgery at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital has long been at the forefront in cardiac care, performing the state’s first open heart surgery on a heart and lung machine in 1956. Today, Emory Healthcare operates one of the largest cardiothoracic (CT) surgery programs in the country and the largest in Georgia.

For more information on Emory’s mitral valve program, please visit: https://www.emoryhealthcare.org/centers-programs/robotic-surgery/robotic-mitral-valve.html