Minimally invasive heart surgery has many advantages and can fix several different heart-related issues. The heart has many different components: chambers, valves, arteries, muscles, etc. If disease hits any part of the heart, it will cause the heart to malfunction and may even lead to heart attack or heart failure. In the olden days, heart surgery was only performed by opening the whole chest cavity and exposing the heart to the outside environment. Nowadays, heart surgery can be minimally invasive which leads to higher survival rates, quicker recovery, and lower infection risk.
Minimally invasive heart surgery requires small cuts. In open heart surgery, a surgeon may make a cut as large as 3 inches long. Cuts in minimally invasive heart surgery may only be 3/4 of an inch. This is a huge difference. The heart is also not exposed to the outside environment. The cuts are made between the rib cage which allows for surgical tools to be placed inside. The breastbone does not have to be split which also makes for a quicker and easier recovery. In minimally invasive heart surgery, a camera is used to view the inside structures of the heart. The camera projects an image on a screen which allows the surgeon to see what is going on. A heart-lung machine is still necessary because the heart must stop beating temporarily for the surgery to be performed.
Minimally Invasive Surgery Types
There are two main types of minimally invasive heart surgery: thoracoscopic surgery and robot-assisted surgery. Both surgeries require a small incision to be made in the rib cage. Instead of using their hand, the surgeon places a long thin tube through the hole. The tube contains a camera that allows the surgeon to see inside the heart. A totally separate cut is now made which allows the surgeon to place tools inside the ribcage to fix the heart problem. Robot-assisted surgery requires the use of a robot. Instead of using the surgeon’s hands, the robot arms are used to do the same thing. Robotic arms are much smaller, so the cuts are much smaller as well. The head surgeon controls the robot while the surgical team helps to replace the tools in the robot’s arms.
Heart Problems fixed by Minimally Invasive Surgery
Minimally invasive heart surgery can fix many different diseases. It is a great method for fixing heart valve problems. The heart valve may be leaky or too narrow. This form of surgery can both repair and replace the valve. Atrial fibrillation is another problem that can be fixed through minimally invasive heart surgery. Atrial septal defect is a hole that forms in the wall of the atrium. This too can be fixed without open-heart surgery. Vein harvest is another method that can be done through small incisions. These are all totally different types of surgery, but the progression of technology has allowed for all these things to be fixed through minimally invasive surgery.
The advantages of minimally invasive surgery are high, and the risk is low. Since a cut is being made, there is always a risk of infection. With the cuts being so small, that risk of infection is minimal. Bleeding is also a risk. If you lose too much blood, you will have to have a blood transfusion. Again, with minimal cuts, blood loss is typically very small. Stroke is always a risk with any heart surgery. When the brain does not get the oxygen it needs, it will lead to a stroke. The advantages of minimally invasive surgery include shorter surgery times. A quicker surgery means less blood loss. There is also a lower risk of infection. Recovery is much easier. You will not have the pain associated with cutting the sternum; this also leads to a quicker recovery. Those small holes will heal fast and leave less scarring. You will be able to return to your normal activities quicker than ever. Follow-up visits are necessary just to monitor the heart. Prognosis is usually excellent, and symptoms will soon diminish.
Minimally invasive heart surgery is not for everyone but for those who qualify; it is a great substitute for open heart surgery. Who would have thought you could have heart surgery without opening the chest? The main component of minimally invasive surgery is the fact that the cuts are small. It is those small cuts that change everything. A person’s hand is relatively large especially when it is compared to the size of the chest. Cuts for open heart surgery are so large because the surgeon’s hand has to be able to fit through the cut. Now with the use of robots and other tools cuts can be smaller. Minimally invasive surgery is now primarily done from a monitor. Heart surgery is not something that anyone desires to go through but with the option of minimally invasive surgery; you can get back on your feet much quicker.
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