Minimally invasive heart surgery: what is it?


What began as a surgical treatment option for patients considered too fragile for open heart surgery, is now rapidly gaining momentum as the approach of choice for medical specialists on the Baylor Scott & team. White The Heart Hospital – Plano * providing complex cardiovascular care. surgeries – all without the need for open heart surgery.

This game-changing approach is called minimally invasive heart surgery. Here’s what you need to know:

How does minimally invasive heart surgery work?

When we think of “heart surgery”, they usually also think of the surgeon who opens the patient’s chest, hence the term “open heart surgery“.

Minimally invasive heart surgery involves making small incisions between the ribs on the patient’s right side to reach the heart. Sometimes that involves using tiny robotic tools and a camera to perform the surgery. Sometimes a single robot is used to complete the procedure. This contrasts with the traditional surgical approach of incising the breastbone.

Robert L. Smith II, MD, a cardiothoracic surgeon on the medical staff at Baylor Scott & White The Heart Hospital – Plano *, recognizes how daunting the prospect of surgery can be.

“The severity of the surgery, especially the physical pain, is one of the most common fears people have,” says Dr. Smith. “They fear why they need surgery and how their lives can be changed afterwards. But minimally invasive heart surgery really alleviates the problem of physical pain caused by the surgery. There is hope that the surgery will not prevent them from returning to where they want to be.

Compared to traditional open heart surgery, minimally invasive heart surgery generally offers the following advantages:

  • A shorter hospital stay
  • Less blood loss
  • Less pain after surgery
  • Scars less (and smaller)
  • Faster return to regular activity
  • Less complications
  • Decreased risk of infection
Baylor Scott & White The Heart Hospital challenges traditional heart surgery with an incredible, minimally invasive approach.

What realistic expectations can a patient have for the procedure, recovery, and life progression after surgery?

“Much depends on the age, the degree of debility and the extent of the underlying heart disease,” says Dr. Smith. “On average, people stay in the hospital 3-5 days after robotic valve surgery. They need pain medication for a week or two and can resume driving as soon as they stop taking these medications. Our goal is to make people feel good, as soon as possible. In many cases, this will include cardiac rehabilitation to complement this process. “

Compared to the typical recovery time for open heart surgery of six to 12 weeks, patients undergoing minimally invasive surgery can fully recover within a two to four week window. Most patients can return to their normal activities one to four weeks after their procedure.

What conditions are treated with minimally invasive heart surgery?

The nationally recognized surgical team at Baylor Scott & White The Heart Hospital – Plano * specializes in the treatment of the following conditions using minimally invasive techniques: aortic valve stenosis, atrial fibrillation (AFib), mitral valve prolapse and heart attack.

Strong results are the top priority of the Hospital’s surgical team. Surgeons take a minimally invasive approach to treating heart conditions first, whenever possible.

Am I a candidate for minimally invasive heart surgery?

Whether a patient is a candidate depends on certain factors, including a person’s medical history and diagnosis. Your doctor will work with you to determine the best surgery for your condition.

“Our goal is to make someone feel the best they can be before surgery. It’s physically and emotionally, ”says Dr. Smith. “We generally want people to eat low salt and eat well. We have good control over their other medical conditions ideally, so we can really focus on correcting the heart disease. In addition, we want to see them get support from their homes and communities. Getting someone as healthy as possible before surgery helps the recovery process tremendously. “

Baylor Scott & White The Heart Hospital – Plano *, has been recognized as one of the nation’s elite hospitals for heart surgery. They were awarded three stars – the highest possible rating – in several categories for their patient care and results by the Society of Thoracic Surgeons. Baylor Scott & White The Heart Hospital – Plano is also ranked nationally by US News & World Report for Cardiology & Cardiac Surgery 2021-2022 and as Best Specialty Hospital.

So, at the very least, your heart health is in good hands if you are a candidate for minimally invasive heart surgery.

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Learn more and find out if you are a candidate for minimally invasive heart surgery at


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