Minimally invasive cardiac surgery is performed through small incisions that are less traumatic to the body than traditional open heart surgery. During minimally invasive operations, surgeons trained in this advanced approach use instruments such as catheters, stents and lasers and computer-guided technology to correct heart and vascular conditions. Minimally invasive cardiac surgery can be a lifesaving option for high-risk patients considered inoperable due to age or concurrent medical conditions.
The Division of Cardiac Surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) has been performing minimally invasive heart surgery techniques such as coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) and mitral valve repair since 1996. Such techniques offer patients less pain and scarring and more rapid recovery than conventional open-heart surgery because surgeons are able to repair the heart through small incisions in the chest wall.
Cardiac surgeons at BWH have played a large role in the history of innovation in minimally invasive surgery—refining and successfully performing advanced techniques, from the research phase to approved standards of care. In 1996, Lawrence Cohn, MD led a BWH team in New England’s first minimally invasive cardiac surgery, replacing the aortic valve of a 71 year-old man. Since then, BWH cardiac surgeons have performed thousands of minimally invasive surgeries and procedures for a range of cardiovascular conditions — with demonstrated outcomes equal to or better than conventional open heart surgery.