These procedures can provide benefits over traditional 'open' options
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. It claims a life, on average, every 33 seconds.
There are many ways to treat heart disease, from behavioral changes to medications to surgery. In recent years, surgery has been transformed by minimally invasive options.
What is 'minimally invasive heart surgery'?
Minimally invasive heart surgery involves the use of techniques that avoid the need for large incisions in the chest and direct handling of the heart and lungs. Instead, surgeons make small incisions and use specialized instruments and often robotic assistance to perform the surgery.
These are some of the most common procedures that now have minimally invasive options:
Coronary artery bypass (CABG) surgery, also known as heart bypass surgery, is a common procedure to treat coronary heart disease. In its minimally invasive form, surgeons bypass the blocked coronary artery using a blood vessel from another part of the body, but through smaller incisions and without the need to cut into the chest cavity. This method significantly reduces recovery time and post-operative discomfort.
Heart valve surgery is used to repair or replace heart valves that are damaged by disease. Surgeons perform a minimally invasive version of heart valve surgery by making smaller incisions and using a catheter intravenously. This procedure may be robotically assisted.
The heart has four valves – aortic, mitral, tricuspid and pulmonic. The aortic and mitral valves are most commonly the subject of heart valve surgery. Whether a valve is repaired or replaced depends on its condition.
Angioplasty is a minimally invasive procedure used to open a blocked or narrowed artery and restore a healthy flow of blood and oxygen to the heart. Like other minimally invasive procedures, angioplasty requires making a small cut in the skin to insert a catheter that is threaded through a vein to the heart. Once in position, a small balloon is then guided to the narrowed or blocked artery and inflated to enlarge or open it. A stent may be placed in the blood vessel to keep it open and prevent it from closing back up.
Benefits of Minimally Invasive Procedures
- Reduced Trauma: Smaller incisions mean less trauma to the chest and heart muscle.
- Quicker Recovery: Patients typically experience a faster return to normal activities.
- Lower Infection Risk: Smaller incisions reduce the risk of post-surgical infections.
- Less Pain and Scarring: Smaller incisions also mean less post-operative pain and minimal scarring.
- Shorter Hospital Stay: Many patients go home sooner than they would after traditional surgery.
If you have been diagnosed with heart disease, speak to your cardiologist about the next steps. While minimally invasive procedures exist and may be effective, more invasive surgery may be required depending on your condition and its severity. Your physician will be able to determine the best treatment path for you.