If you’ve been told that you or a loved one needs heart surgery, you may wonder about your options. When most people think of heart surgery, open surgery comes to mind. But have you heard about minimally invasive heart surgery?
A minimally invasive approach to heart surgery is a beneficial alternative, so learn the advantages. If you ever need to consider a heart procedure, you’ll want to be able to have a more informed discussion with your doctor.
What is open-heart surgery?
During open-heart surgery, a 6- to 10-inch incision is made in the chest. The surgeon cuts through the breastbone to expose the heart and performs surgery to correct problems with the heart, valves, arteries and other structures. This type of surgery requires an extended recovery time.
Patients who undergo open-heart surgery typically remain in the hospital for 8-10 days and spend up to eight weeks recovering from the procedure. Open-heart surgery is commonly performed on people who need multiple coronary bypass procedures or complex cardiac operations, or who have undergone heart surgery in the past.
How does minimally invasive heart surgery differ?
Instead of making one large incision and cutting the breastbone, the minimally invasive approach involves the surgeon making multiple small incisions between the ribs. A special surgical instrument with a camera attached and other surgical tools allows the surgeon to perform the procedure with precision.
Minimally invasive heart surgery can be used for the following procedures:
- Aortic valve repair
- Mitral valve replacement
- Coronary bypass
- Ventricular assist device
- Atrial septal repair
- Tricuspid valve repair
While minimally invasive heart surgery is available to most patients, only you and your surgeon can determine which approach is best for your situation.
5 key benefits of minimally invasive heart surgery
Because open-heart surgery involves a large incision and breaking the breastbone, health care teams prioritize managing postoperative pain and discomfort. Doctors typically prescribe medications to help manage pain.
Since minimally invasive heart surgery doesn’t involve cutting the breastbone and uses small incisions instead, patients experience much less pain following the procedure.
You can expect to have a large scar in the middle of your chest after healing from open-heart surgery. With minimally invasive heart surgery, on the other hand, patients have much less scarring and have an improved cosmetic result.
Minimally invasive heart surgery causes less trauma to the body. The small incisions and avoidance of cutting the breastbone mean patients heal in a matter of days instead of weeks. Patients are able to return to work and their regular activities much sooner than is possible with open-heart surgery.
Shorter hospital stay
People who have minimally invasive heart surgery typically return home within 2-5 days of surgery instead of the 8-10 days that is typical of patients who opt for open-heart surgery.
Lower complication risk
Infection and bleeding are risks of open-heart surgery. While the same risks exist for the minimally invasive approach, the chances of experiencing such complications are lower.
A number of factors determine which surgery is best for you. Dr. Bokhari considers your medical history, age and general health status when making a recommendation. To learn more, call or book online to schedule a consultation at our practice in Riverside, California.