MKSAP Quiz: Cardiac murmur in early adulthood

A 65-year-old woman is evaluated during a routine examination. She was diagnosed with a cardiac murmur in early adulthood. She is active, healthy, and without symptoms. She takes no medications. Following a physical exam that reveals a grade 3/6 holosystolic murmur and echocardiogram that demonstrates a left ventricular ejection fraction of 50%, what is the next most appropriate step in management?


A 65-year-old woman is evaluated during a routine examination. She was diagnosed with a cardiac murmur in early adulthood. She is active, healthy, and without symptoms. She takes no medications.

On physical examination, vital signs are normal. A grade 3/6 holosystolic murmur preceded by multiple clicks is present at the apex. Physical findings are otherwise unremarkable.

An echocardiogram demonstrates a left ventricular ejection fraction of 50%. The left ventricle is moderately dilated with an end-systolic dimension of 42 mm. Myxomatous degeneration of the mitral valve is present with severe regurgitation due to posterior leaflet prolapse.

Which of the following is the most appropriate next step in management?

A. Serial clinical and echocardiographic evaluations
B. Surgical mitral valve repair
C. Surgical mitral valve replacement
D. Transcatheter mitral valve repair


MKSAP Answer and Critique

The correct answer is B. Surgical mitral valve repair. This item is available to MKSAP 18 subscribers as item 3 in the Cardiovascular Medicine section. More information on MKSAP 18 is available online.

The most appropriate next step in management is surgical mitral valve repair. Myxomatous degeneration of the mitral valve is common, affecting 1% to 2% of the general population. In 10% of patients, the valvular lesion can progress, become life threatening, and require surgery. The only definitive therapy for severe mitral regurgitation is mitral valve surgery. Options are mitral valve repair, mitral valve replacement with preservation of part or all of the mitral apparatus, and mitral valve replacement with removal of the mitral apparatus. Mitral valve repair is generally preferred to valve replacement because it is associated with improved survival in retrospective studies. Mitral valve repair is strongly recommended for chronic severe primary mitral regurgitation in (1) symptomatic patients with left ventricular ejection fraction greater than 30%, (2) asymptomatic patients with left ventricular dysfunction (left ventricular ejection fraction of 30%-60% and/or left ventricular end-systolic diameter ≥40 mm), and (3) patients undergoing another cardiac surgical procedure. Additionally, mitral valve repair is reasonable in asymptomatic patients with chronic severe primary mitral regurgitation who have new-onset atrial fibrillation or pulmonary hypertension (pulmonary artery systolic pressure >50 mm Hg). Notably, a left ventricular ejection fraction of 60% or less is used in defining left ventricular systolic dysfunction in mitral regurgitation because aortic emptying into the left atrium contributes to the relatively lower afterload conditions and higher ejection fraction despite impaired left ventricular performance.

Serial evaluations every 6 to 12 months are recommended for patients with severe mitral regurgitation who do not have indications for surgery. This patient meets the criteria for surgery; therefore, serial evaluations would not be appropriate at this time.

Many patients who could benefit from mitral valve repair are denied surgery because of high surgical risk, advanced age, or comorbid conditions. A catheter-based device can improve mitral valve function by delivering a clip percutaneously to approximate the valve leaflet edges and improve leaflet coaptation at the origin of the mitral regurgitation jet. The device is approved for patients with significant symptomatic degenerative mitral regurgitation for whom mitral valve surgery poses a prohibitive risk. This patient is healthy and does not have comorbid conditions that would significantly increase surgical risk; therefore, transcatheter repair is not indicated.

Key Point

  • Mitral valve repair is strongly recommended for chronic severe primary mitral regurgitation in symptomatic patients with left ventricular ejection fraction greater than 30%, asymptomatic patients with left ventricular dysfunction, and patients undergoing another cardiac surgical procedure.