Conference Coverage

Volume directly tied to mitral valve procedure success



– Volume matters when it comes to mitral valve repair/replacement for primary mitral regurgitation. The more cases a physician and hospital do, the better the outcomes, according to a review of 55,311 cases in the Society of Thoracic Surgeons Adult Cardiac Surgery Database.

Dr. Vinay Badhwar, professor and chair of cardiovascular and thoracic surgery at West Virginia University, Morgantown

Dr. Vinay Badhwar

Investigators “found a clear inflection point at approximately 75 cases” for hospitals and 35 cases for individual surgeons when the curves for successful mitral repair and 30-day operative mortality start to level out. Nationwide, 148 hospitals (14%) in the analysis did 75 or more mitral cases a year, and 303 surgeons (13%) did at least 35.

Lead investigator Vinay Badhwar, MD, professor and chair of cardiovascular and thoracic surgery at West Virginia University, Morgantown, estimated that about 90% of Americans have access to a regional hospital that does at least 25 mitral procedures annually, and about 82% can use a regional hospital that does at least 40. Meanwhile, the rate of mitral valve repair for primary mitral regurgitation was 81% (44,692/55,311) in the study, up from about 60% a decade ago.

“We are getting there; we are getting better,” Dr. Badhwar said at the Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics annual meeting. By defining volume cut points, he said the findings could be useful in future guidelines to steer referrals to higher-volume centers.

“We really needed these data, because we’ve had so many other pieces pointing to the volume repair rates and technical success, which clearly is related to volume. Now we have the outcome data we’ve been looking for; this ties it together. There really is an impact on patient outcomes,” Robert Bonow, MD, a professor of cardiology at Northwestern University, Chicago, commented.

The team divided annual case volume into quartiles. The lowest hospital quartile did fewer than 11 cases a year, and the highest more than 46. The lowest-quartile surgeons did fewer than 6 cases a year, and the highest more than 20. Lowest-quartile surgeons and hospitals, versus the highest, had higher operative mortality and 30-day morbidity and mortality, and lower 1-year survival.

Patients in the lowest quartile were also more likely to be black or Hispanic (14.8% versus 10.2%); have no insurance (4.0% versus 2.4%); and more severe symptom presentation (31.9% versus 23.8% class III or IV heart failure). The differences were highly statistically significant.

Study moderator Ajay Kirtane, MD, an interventional cardiologist and associate professor of medicine at Columbia University, New York, said there’s a role for advocacy to get more people to high-volume centers. “Just because you live in an area that has a good program doesn’t mean that you are actually going to get referred to that program. We find a lot that it’s advocacy that is important,” especially with the disparities noted in the study. “Not everybody has an advocate who says, ‘Don’t do it here; do it someplace else,’ ” he said at the meeting sponsored by the Cardiovascular Research Foundation.

And not everyone has an advocate to get them to the right surgeon, even if they get to the right program. “There are cardiac procedures that most surgeons can do well. Mitral valve surgery is one of those that should be super specialized,” said cardiothoracic surgeon Michael Mack, MD, director of the cardiovascular service line at Baylor Scott and White Health System, Dallas.

No industry funding was reported. Dr. Badhwar had no relevant disclosures.

SOURCE: Badhwar V et al. TCT 2019.

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