Structural Heart Disease

Minimally invasive structural heart disease treatment

Scripps Clinic interventional cardiologist Matthew Price, MD, is a recognized expert in structural heart disease care.

Dr. Matthew Price, Cardiology, Scripps Clinic

Minimally invasive structural heart disease treatment

Structural heart disease occurs when the valves, chambers or walls that direct blood flow through your heart become diseased or damaged. Your heart must work harder than normal to pump blood through the rest of the body, and parts of your body may not get enough oxygen or nutrients to function properly. 

More than 5 million Americans are diagnosed with heart valve disease every year. It can be caused by an illness, injury or congenital heart defect. In some cases, structural heart disease may be controlled with medication. In others, surgical intervention is required. Scripps interventional cardiologists offer advanced treatments for structural heart disease.

Aortic valve diseases

The aortic valve controls blood flow from the left ventricle of the heart to the aorta, a major blood vessel that delivers blood to the rest of the body. Aortic valve diseases prevent blood from flowing properly through the heart.

There are two main types of aortic valve disease: aortic stenosis and aortic regurgitation.

Aortic valve disease treatment (TAVR)

Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is a minimally invasive procedure to implant a prosthetic valve inside your diseased valve. The procedure allows the physician to insert a new valve into the heart while it is still beating, so the patient usually does not have to be on a heart-lung bypass machine. The new valve is inserted via a thin, flexible tube called a catheter, so it is less invasive than valve replacement surgery.

Scripps interventional cardiologists are San Diego’s leaders in TAVR surgery. Scripps heart doctors were among the first in the US to test the devices in clinical trials before the procedure received FDA approval in 2011. More than 1,000 Scripps patients have benefitted from TAVR as a treatment for heart valve disease.

Mitral valve diseases

The mitral valve allows blood to flow between the two chambers on the left side of your heart. When the heart relaxes, the valve is open, allowing blood to flow from the lungs to the main pumping chamber of the heart. When the heart squeezes, the valve closes, so that blood goes forward toward the brain and body and not to the lungs. Mitral valve diseases prevent the proper flow of blood through the heart.

There are two main types of mitral valve disease: mitral regurgitation and mitral stenosis. 

Mitral valve disease treatment

Scripps offers advanced treatments for mitral valve disease, including transcatheter mitral valve repair and transcatheter balloon mitral valvuloplasty.

Congenital and septal defects

Congenital heart defects are structural problems with the heart that are present at birth. Many congenital heart defects may be treated during childhood, but in some cases they are discovered later in life. Such adult congenital heart disease may require additional treatment, such as medication, surgery or less invasive procedures performed by an interventional cardiologist. There are several types of procedures; your physician will determine which is best for you.

Scripps interventional cardiologists treat many congenital heart defects using minimally invasive catheter-based techniques. These defects include:

Paravalvular leak and other heart conditions

In a small number of patients who have had a heart valve replaced, a space may open between the valve replacement and the patient’s natural heart tissue. This is called a paravalvular leak (PVL) and forces the heart to work harder than it should to pump blood through the body. Symptoms of PVL may include shortness of breath, unexplained weight gain, and swelling in the legs and feet. Without treatment, severe paravalvular leaking may lead to heart failure. 


Scripps interventional cardiologists use minimally invasive surgery to place a device around a paravalvular leak that blocks or plugs the leak. The device is placed using a long, thin tube called a catheter. Once the device has closed the leak, the catheter is removed.

Several rare or unusual structural heart conditions are difficult or impossible to treat with surgery and can only be addressed with catheter-based techniques. These conditions include:

Stroke prevention

Atrial fibrillation (AFib), a type of irregular heartbeat, can increase the risk of stroke. Scripps heart specialists offer the following to help those affected by AFib reduce their risk. 

  • Transcatheter left atrial appendage closure 
  • Transcatheter left atrial appendage ligation