Minimally Invasive Techniques

Many heart problems can be treated with minimally invasive heart surgery. Surgeons at CCVSA offer this treatment, accessing the heart through small incisions in the side of the chest. The surgeons use specially designed instruments to perform the operation.This procedure may be done without stopping the heart. Some patients can leave the hospital within 48 hours. This operation is only used for patients whose blockages can be bypassed through a smaller incision and whose risk of complications is low. Advantages of this procedure include:

  • Reduced hospital stay
  • Faster recovery time
  • Less blood loss

By applying advanced endoscopic and robotic technology, CCVSA surgeons are performing an ever-growing number of heart surgeries with minimally invasive techniques. CCVSA surgeons use two minimally invasive surgery methods: robot-assisted (the da Vinci system) and thorascopic. Both approaches access the heart through small incisions in the right chest wall and avoid having to split the breastbone (sternotomy).


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Minimally invasive surgery approaches the heart from the side. Avoiding sternotomy reduces pain and recovery time for most patients, enabling them to resume normal daily activities sooner. Minimally invasive surgery also leaves smaller, less-noticeable scars than open heart surgery, has a lower risk of infection, and may involve less blood loss.Besides reducing trauma for the patient, minimally invasive surgery also allows the surgeon a better view of some parts of the heart anatomy than the view with open heart surgery.

Minimally invasive heart surgery still requires that blood flow be diverted from the heart, and the heart must be stopped with cardiopulmonary bypass. Minimally invasive surgery may be used to treat congenital (present at birth) heart problems or those that have developed later in life.Minimally invasive surgical procedures that CCVSA surgeons currently performs include:

  • Aortic valve surgery
  • Mitral valve surgery
  • Tricuspid valve surgery
  • Atrial septal defect closure, including patent foramen ovale
  • Atrioventricular canal defect (also called atrioventricular septal defect) surgery
  • Atrial fibrillation surgery (Maze procedure)
  • “Off-pump” coronary artery bypass surgery (without a cardiopulmonary bypass machine); also called minimally invasive direct coronary bypass
  • Saphenous vein harvest for coronary artery bypass surgery

Conditions that may exclude a patient from minimally invasive heart surgery include:

  • Severe valve damage
  • Clogged arteries (atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries)
  • Obesity