In minimally invasive heart surgery, cardiac surgeons perform heart surgery through small incisions in the right side of your chest, as an alternative to open heart surgery. Surgeons operate between the ribs and don’t split the breastbone (sternotomy), which results in less pain and a quicker recovery for most people. In minimally invasive surgery, your heart surgeon has a better view of some parts of your heart than in open heart surgery. As in open surgery, minimally invasive heart surgery requires stopping your heart temporarily and diverting blood flow from your heart using a heart-lung machine.
Surgeons perform many minimally invasive heart surgeries, including:
- Aortic valve surgery
- Atrial septal defect closure, including patent foramen ovale
- Atrioventricular canal defect (also called atrioventricular septal defect) surgery
- Heart valve surgery to treat heart valve disease
- Maze heart surgery to treat atrial fibrillation
- Mitral valve surgery
- Saphenous vein harvest (removing a vein from your leg) for coronary bypass surgery
- Tricuspid valve surgery
Your doctor will work with you to determine whether minimally invasive heart surgery is an option. If you’ve had prior heart surgery or heart disease, you generally aren’t a candidate. Your doctor also may perform tests and review your medical history to determine whether you’re a candidate for minimally invasive heart surgery. Mayo Clinic offers robot-assisted surgery or thoracoscopic minimally invasive heart surgery.
Minimally invasive heart surgery isn’t an option for everyone, but it offers many advantages in those for whom it’s appropriate.