Rather than cutting into the breastbone as in open-heart surgery, minimally invasive heart surgery requires making minor incisions in the right side of the chest to approach the heart between the ribs. It is a surgical procedure that is done by robotic hands via tiny incisions instead of a large opening. This will result in a quicker recovery with less pain than traditional open-heart surgeries. Most patients are up and driving in as little as ten days after the operation, which takes about two hours.
Several heart problems can be treated with minimally invasive heart surgery:
- Mitral Valve Repair or Replacement.
- Aortic Valve Repair or Replacement.
- Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting. (CABG)
- Ventricular Assist Device. (VAD)
- Atrial Septal Defect Repair. (ASD)
- Tricuspid Valve Repair or Replacement. (TVR)
- MAZE procedure for Atrial Fibrillation.
Everyone might not qualify for minimally invasive heart surgery. To determine if it is a possible option for a patient, the doctor will conduct various physical examinations and tests besides reviewing the patient’s medical history. Moreover, this is a highly complex surgical procedure that necessitates training and experience. Nevertheless, if one is a candidate for such a surgery, the benefits can be impressively relieving.
Benefits of Minimally Invasive Heart Surgeries:
- There will be no opening of the chest or bone cutting.
- Improved recovery time
- There is less discomfort, both emotional and physical, as compared to open-heart surgery.
- Complication risk is reduced.
- Blood loss and the need for blood transfusions are reduced.
- Scarring is minimal.
- A shorter stay in the hospital.
- Lower risk of infection
During the procedure
Robot-assisted cardiac surgery, thoracoscopic surgery, and surgery through a small incision in the chest are different types of procedures of minimally invasive heart surgery. Surgeons enter the heart by tiny incisions between the patient’s ribs in all types of minimally invasive procedures.
The surgeon would be able to see through the body using a tool with a small video camera inserted through one of the incisions.
A heart-lung bypass system, similar to that used in open-heart surgery, is used in the majority of minimally invasive procedures. During the treatment, the pump keeps the blood flowing through the body.
Robot-Assisted Heart Surgery
Robotic arms, rather than the surgeon’s hands, are used in robot-assisted heart surgery to execute the same manoeuvres as conventional open-heart surgery.
During this operation, the surgeon uses a remote console to view one’s heart on a video monitor in a magnified high-definition 3D view.
The surgeon’s hand gestures on the console are precisely translated to the robotic arms on the operating table, which acts similar to a human wrist.
At the operating table, a second surgeon and surgical team helped in adjusting surgical instruments attached to the robotic arms.
The surgeon inserts a long, thin tube (thoracoscope) holding a tiny high-definition video camera into a small incision in one’s chest during thoracoscopic surgery (also known as a mini-thoracotomy).
Long instruments inserted through tiny incisions between one’s ribs are used by the surgeon to repair a patient’s heart.
After the procedure
In most cases, the patient has to spend a day or two in the intensive care unit (ICU). Intravenous (IV) lines will be used to administer fluids and drugs. Other tubes can remove urine from the patient’s bladder and fluid and blood from the patient’s chest during surgery. A facemask or prongs in the patient’s nose can be used to deliver oxygen.
After the ICU, the patient will be moved to a regular hospital room for several days. The number of time patients spends in the ICU and hospital will depend on their condition and surgery.
The patient may have a better quality of life and fewer symptoms after minimally invasive heart surgery.
The doctor advises the patient about when they should resume normal activities, including work, driving, and exercising.
The patient needs to see the doctor regularly for follow-up appointments. The patient will be subjected to several tests in order to assess and track their condition.
The doctor will also advise the patient to engage in cardiac rehabilitation, which is an education and exercise programme designed to help the patient improve their health and recover from heart surgery.