Minimally Invasive Heart Surgery



The mere thought of undergoing an open heart surgery is so scary and ominous that people try to avoid it as much as possible. Your doctor will typically not suggest an open heart surgery unless it becomes mandatory and crucial for you. So, instead of avoiding you can speak to your doctor about the procedure to allay your fears.

An open heart surgery has traditionally been performed by making an incision in your skin and through the breastbone. This leads to increase in the recovery time after the bone has been attached back together with the help of special wires. But, with advancement in medical technology, now you may not need to go through the traditional bypass surgery. Instead, doctors can perform minimally invasive heart surgery, where they do not need to touch the breastbone entirely or may do so only partially.

Isn’t is like a wish come true? Lesser invasive surgery, faster and less painful recovery, reduced risk of infusion due to much lesser blood loss and minimum scarring. That’s the magic of technology for you. So how exactly does this minimally invasive open heart surgery work?

Procedure of Minimally Invasive Heart Surgery

In this particular procedure, a number of small incisions are made on the left side of the chest to operate between the ribs. This sometimes gives the cardiac surgeon much better access to the heart. Also, since the incisions are smaller, there is much lesser blood loss. Some of the minimally invasive heart surgeries may need the heart to be stopped momentarily and attaching a heart lung bypass machine to ensure proper supply of blood through the body. 

Even though the minimally invasive open heart surgery may seem like a panacea for all risks of a traditional open heart surgery, it may not be so. Not everyone is a candidate for a minimally invasive heart bypass surgery. Who should actually undergo this procedure is determined by the consulting doctor on the basis of certain parameters like

  • Medical history of diseases like diabetes
  • Age and activity
  • Physical fitness
  • Any previous heart ailments
  • Tobacco or alcohol consumption habits

Minimally invasive procedures can be used to perform the following surgeries apart from Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting

  • Aortic Valve Replacement
  • Tricuspid Valve Repair and Replacement
  • Mitral Valve Repair and Replacement
  • Atrioventricular Septal defect surgery and many others

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Types of Minimally Invasive Heart Surgery

Like any other complex medical procedure, it is absolutely essential to prepare for the minimally invasive heart bypass surgery by having lengthy, clear and conclusive discussions with your doctor to understand the procedure, what to expect from it and the post-operative precautions as well as risks, your ongoing medications and whether to continue with them as well as any allergies or conditions that you may have. A minimally invasive heart surgery can be of the following types:-
  • Robot-assisted Surgery – in this technologically advanced method, the surgical operations performed by cardiac surgeons during a traditional bypass are mimicked by robotic arms, which are much more precise. The robotic arms are controlled by a surgeon in another room by means of controls and 3D views of the heart. Another team of doctors present in the Operation Theatre during the minimally invasive heart surgery assist with the correct tool placement in the robotic arms.
  • Thoracoscopic Surgery – in this method of invasive heart surgery, the doctor inserts a miniature video camera through a minimal invasion between the ribs, to get a better visibility of the heart. This better visibility guides them through the entire procedure.
  • Surgical Incision based – this is like the traditional CABG with the difference being in the incision being made. Here the incisions are much smaller and made between the ribs. Hence, the recovery is faster and much less painful than traditional CABG.
  • Biologic response modifier: These latest drugs are especially used in rheumatoid arthritis treatment. These agents block a step in the inflammation without slowing down the immune system.
  • Osteoporosis medications:These augment the body’s capacity to form new bones and slow the bone loss.

Recovering after surgery

Once the procedure, you will need to spend a day or two in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) with tubes being attached to remove fluids. After you move out of the ICU, you will need to spend some more days in the hospital, under the specialist care of medical staff. They will monitor your medical parameters as well as show you ways to manage the pain.

Also, initially the hospital staff will assist you in movement and start breathing exercises. You may be suggested to undergo cardiac rehabilitation after your minimally invasive cardiac surgery. This will help in faster recovery and getting back on your feet sooner.

Once you are discharged from the hospital, your doctor will provide you with a list of instructions for multiple things like:-

  • Taking care of your healing incision site
  • Lifestyle and dietary changes
  • Medicine and exercises
  • Precautions till complete recovery
  • Follow up check-up routines
Ensure to follow the guidelines of your doctor and do not miss your follow up appointments. You will be able to lead a healthier and happier life after complete recovery from your minimally invasive open heart surgery.


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