Most cardiac operations today are performed through a sternotomy, which involves splitting the entire breastbone. Minimally invasive cardiac surgery encompasses a variety of operations performed through incisions that are substantially smaller and less traumatic than the standard sternotomy. Minimally invasive incisions measure about 3 to 4 inches compared to 8 to 10 sternotomy incisions. Specialized handheld and robotic instruments are used to project the dexterity of the surgeon’s hands through these small incisions in performing the operations.
What are the benefits of minimally-invasive cardiac surgery?
Minimally invasive surgery confers many advantages over standard approaches derived largely from the reduced trauma to the chest wall tissues. The benefits of minimally invasive cardiac surgery include:
- Smaller incisions
- Smaller scars
- Reduced infection risk
- Less blood loss
- Less pain
Shorter hospital stays. Stays after minimally invasive operations are from 3 to 5 days compared to 5 to 7 days for traditional sternotomy-based cardiac operations.
Fewer physical restrictions. Patients undergoing standard incision cardiac operations are restricted from driving an automobile or lifting objects weighing more than 5 pounds while patients undergoing minimally invasive cardiac surgery are not subject to these restrictions.
Shorter recovery time. Recovery times after minimally invasive operations are from 2 to 4 weeks compared to 6 to 8 weeks for standard sternotomy-based cardiac operations.
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