Dr. Dal-Bianco's focus is on the evaluation and management of patients with cardiovascular disease, with clinical expertise in heart valve disease and special interest in mitral valve disease. His research is focused on the mitral valve.
Dr. Dal-Bianco's research aims to understand the mechanism of how the mitral valve, a valve that separates the left heart chambers, adapts to myocardial injury following a heart attack. One of the major complications following a heart attack is mitral regurgitation (mitral valve leakage) due to incomplete and impaired leaflet closure. Mitral regurgitation is also called mitral incompetence or insufficiency.
When the mitral valve doesn't seal tightly, blood will flow backward in the heart, instead of forward. This leads to lung congestion, enlargement of the heart and contributes to the doubling of mortality. Patients experience heart failure and report of shortness of breath, fatigue and / or swollen feet and ankles.
Dr. Dal-Bianco explores the adaptive mechanisms of the mitral valve following a heart attack and his research suggests that mitral valve leaflets actively grow and adapt. This novel observation contradicts the notion of mitral valve leaflets being merely passive tissue flaps.
Understanding the mechanisms of active mitral valve adaptation can potentially provide therapeutic opportunities to augment leaflet area: Larger mitral leaflets should restore adequate leaflet closure and therefore reduce the amount of mitral regurgitation and improve heart failure symptoms. This multidisciplinary research project is coordinated and spearheaded by Dr. Robert Levine, Dr. Elena Aikawa and Dr. Joyce Bischoff.
Please see a list of Dr. Dal-Bianco's publications by clicking on the link above
Massachusetts General Hospital now offers the MitraClip system for patients with severe mitral regurgitation. This new, minimally invasive mitral valve repair approach is a potential treatment option for patients who are too high risk for open-heart surgery.