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Minimally Invasive Cardiac Surgery

What is minimally invasive cardiac surgery?

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.

Standard Sternotomy Incision Standard Sternotomy Incision
This 8 to 10 inch incision splits the entire breastbone.
Mini-Sternotomy Incision Mini-Sternotomy Incision
This 4 to 5 inch incision just splits the upper third of the breastbone.
Mini-Thoracotomy Incision Mini-Thoracotomy Incision
This 3 to 4 inch incision is made between the ribs whereby no bone is cut.
Port-access Incision Port-access Incision
Robotic instruments are passed through several 1/2 inch incisions between the ribs.

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.

What minimally invasive cardiac operations does Johns Hopkins offer?

The Johns Hopkins Minimally-Invasive Cardiac Surgical Program currently offers the following operations using a minimally-invasive approach:

Mitral Valve Repair
Patent Foramen Ovale Closure
Atrial Septal Defect Closure
Biventricular epicardial pacing lead placement
Surgical Radiofrequency Ablation for atrial fibrillation

Learn about robotic cardiac surgery, one type of minimally invasive procedure offered by Johns Hopkins.

Is minimally invasive surgery the right choice for me?

If you would like to find out if you are a candidate for minimally invasive cardiac surgery or if you would like more information regarding this approach, please contact us at (410) 955-9780 Monday through Friday 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM EST.