UK hospital to start largest study of its kind to evaluate minimally invasive sternotomy for mitral regurgitation patients

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Cardiologists at The James Cook University Hospital (Middlesbrough, UK), after receiving £1.6 million in NHS funding, are to initiate a trial—the UK Mini Mitral trial—that compares traditional sternotomy with minimally invasive sternotomy in patients undergoing mitral valve repair. A press release reports that the study is the largest of its kind and that the research has the potential to benefit thousands of patients worldwide, who have mitral valve regurgitation.

Enoch Akowuah, chief investigator for the study and consultant cardiothoracic surgeon at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, explained the research would involve 400 patients across a number of hospital sites—with 200 of undergoing a minimally invasive right “minithoracotomy” (a smaller incision in the right side of the chest below the breast area) and 200 undergoing a conventional sternotomy. Akowuah comments: “The valve repair can then be carried out using keyhole techniques via this incision.” The aim of the minithoracotomy is deliver the same treatment results but with potentially fewer risks and possible quicker recovery times.

“At The James Cook University Hospital, we have already been using this technique for a number of years, but the trial, which will follow the patients taking part in detail for more than four years after their surgery, will assess whether there is a difference in patients’ recovery and subsequent health. It will also determine whether the minimally invasive technique has cost benefits,” Akowuah adds.

Andrew Goodwin, another cardiac surgeon at The James Cook University Hospital, is also involved in the trial. He states: “We believe this trial will be the largest ever study of keyhole heart valve surgery performed in the world to date, and it is a fantastic achievement for the cardiac research team at James Cook to secure the £1.6m funding to lead this project as it is rolled out around the UK.”

The study is keen to recruit patients across the region, from Berwick to Harrogate and Scarborough to Carlisle. Patients are also being recruited at Kings’ Hospital London, Basildon in Essex and Blackpool.

“But I feel fine about it. For me, it’s no different to going to the dentist. The surgery has to be done and I feel like I’m in safe hands.”