Minimally Invasive Valve Surgery

Your Care Explained > Tests and Procedures : Minimally Invasive Valve Surgery

For patients without coronary artery disease, heart valve replacement/repair can now be performed through much smaller incisions than required for conventional open surgery.

Many women find that the scar from minimally invasive valve surgery is concealed under a breast, making it almost invisible. A small incision also means less blood loss, recovery time and scarring than occur in conventional surgery.

What to Expect:

  • No food or drink the night before surgery.
  • No make-up, nail polish or jewelry in surgery.
  • You’ll sleep through the surgery.
  • You should be out of the ICU in 2 to 3 days.
  • You’ll leave the hospital about a week later.
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The preparation and follow-up care for minimally invasive valve surgery are generally the same as for open valve surgery. The difference is in the length of the incision: rather than cutting the sternum, or breastbone, down the middle from top to bottom, for an aortic valve replacement, a three-inch incision is made at the top of the sternum. For a mitral valve replacement, a three-inch incision will be made at the lower end of the sternum.

For mitral valve repair, physicians may also use the da Vinci Robotic Surgical System. The system employs tiny robotic arms, which are connected to microscopic surgical instruments and a high-resolution camera. The arms are passed through keyhole incisions above the heart. At a display console, the surgeon manipulates levers, and these motions are mimicked by the computer, virtually placing the surgeon’s hands inside the patient’s chest.

Valvuloplasty is also an option for valves narrowed by calcification. In this procedure, a catheter is directed into the valve and a balloon is inflated to widen the valve opening.

Date Last Modified: January 21, 2011

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