Minimally invasive cardiac surgery is heart surgery that does not require cutting open the chest and splitting apart the breastbone (sternum).
In traditional open heart surgery, a long incision is made down the middle of the chest and through the breastbone. The rib cage is then spread apart so that the surgeon can access the heart. In contrast, minimally invasive cardiac surgery is performed through small incisions on the side of the chest. These incisions allow the surgical instruments to be inserted between the ribs, leaving the breastbone intact.
Patients receive the same lifesaving benefits, but with significantly less trauma, less pain and a faster recovery. These benefits have helped make minimally invasive cardiac surgery the preferred approach for many heart patients today.
Types of Minimally Invasive Cardiac Surgery
- Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG) – A less invasive alternative for treating severe blockage that is restricting blood flow and oxygen to the heart, also known as coronary artery disease. A healthy blood vessel is taken from another area of the body and used to divert the flow of blood around a section of blocked artery, restoring normal blood flow to the heart muscle. The least invasive approach to this procedure is known as a minimally invasive direct coronary artery bypass (MIDCAB).
- Aortic Valve Replacement (AVR) – A procedure used to replace the aortic valve if it has thickened and narrowed, preventing adequate blood flow, or if the valve isn't fully closing, causing blood to leak back into the heart. Learn more about AVR at our Valve Clinic website.
- Mitral Valve Replacement/Repair (MVR) – Surgery to either replace or repair the mitral valve in the heart, one of four main valves that help pass blood through the heart while preventing blood from flowing backwards. Learn more about MVR at our Valve Clinic website.
- Atrial Fibrillation – Surgery to correct an abnormal heart rhythm in the two upper chambers of the heart (the atria) that is causing poor blood flow to the body. Known as the “mini Maze” procedure, this less invasive approach creates scar tissue on the heart to block the abnormal electrical impulses that are disrupting the heart's normal rhythm.
- Hybrid Procedures – Procedures that combine minimally invasive cardiac surgery with catheter-based interventions, most commonly stents. These tailored treatment strategies use the least-invasive approach to achieve the best possible outcome.
Who Is a Candidate for Minimally Invasive Cardiac Surgery?
Most patients are candidates for minimally invasive cardiac surgery. Exceptions may include:
- Patients who have had prior heart surgery or heart disease
- Patients who need multiple heart procedures during the same surgery
- Patients with a history of lung surgery or other surgery on the right side of the chest, with scar tissue that might restrict access to the heart
- Patients with severe blockages in the arteries of the legs (peripheral vascular disease)
Your surgical team will determine whether you are a candidate for minimally invasive cardiac surgery based on the type and severity of your heart disease, your you're your medical history, and the results of any diagnostic tests performed.
For more information about minimally invasive cardiac surgery at the Houston Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center, or to schedule an appointment, please call 713-DEBAKEY (332-2539), or complete our online contact us form.