Minimally Invasive Cardiac Surgical approaches have been developed that can accomplish the procedure through a small 3-4 inch incision. This type of surgery eliminates the need for the larger, traditional 8-10 inch chest incision also call called a full sternotomy. The manner in which these surgical techniques are applied are patient and disease specific.
Minimally Invasive Valve Surgery can be done to repair or replace the Mitral Valve, which lies between the upper and lower chamber of the heart on the left side. There are also minimally invasive techniques that have been developed to replace the Aortic Valve, which sits at the root of the Aorta at the exit of the Left Ventricle. Both of these procedures typically require the use of heart-lung machine or cardiopulmonary bypass, but can be performed with smaller incisions.
Minimally Invasive Coronary Artery Bypass Grafts or CABG is a surgery that accomplishes the goal of revascularization of the heart muscle by implanting bypass grafts. These grafts are typically taken from the leg, the arm or inside the chest wall and attached surgically to the coronary arteries. In effect this reroutes the circulation to the heart muscle called the myocardium. This procedure can now be performed in some cases through a 3 inch incision on the chest. Standard coronary artery bypass surgery with a full sternotomy incision requires fully dividing the breastbone, or sternum, and is generally considered one of the more worrisome aspects of heart surgery for many people. The leg vein can also be removed with a minimally invasive technique called Endoscopic Vein Harvest. This results in a small, usually 1-2 inch incision on the leg as opposed to previous techniques which involved a much longer incision down the inside of the leg.
The Minimally invasive techniques that have been developed have been shown to have a positive impact on how a cardiac surgery is tolerated. The benefits include a smaller incision and scar, decreased risk of infection, less bleeding, reduced hospital stay, less trauma to the chest and typically a less painful and more rapid recovery. Cardiac Surgery patients should consult with their surgeon to discuss their clinical status and the appropriate surgical technique for their specific condition.