Minimally Invasive Heart Surgery

Anyone who ever had traditional open heart surgery knows that the experience is no walk in the park. The surgery is clearly a mainstay in the treatment of heart disease, but is associated with pain and requires several weeks of rehabilitation before patients can return to all of their normal activities.

In order to work on the heart, cardiac surgeons have usually made a large vertical incision in the chest and split the breastbone in half. Following surgery, patients require six weeks of healing before they return to work or their normal activities. Patients cannot lift anything that weighs more than 10 pounds for 12 weeks and usually need significant amounts of medication to treat their early post-operative pain.

The UI Heart and Vascular Center approach allows for more patients to be candidates for minimally invasive surgery. Benefits of this approach include:

  • Less trauma with a single, small incision--less than 2½ inches
  • Quicker recovery--many patients go home four days post-operatively and return to work in three weeks
  • Reduced pain
  • Excellent outcomes for heart valve surgery

The technique is particularly beneficial for older patients, those who have previously had an open heart procedure, and those who want rapid return to work or an active lifestyle.

Minimally-invasive heart surgery requires teamwork. The surgical team must be able to perform off-pump bypasses. That team concept also benefits patients with heart artery blockages. In some cases, patients may receive a stent in one or two vessels in the morning from heart specialists in the cardiac catheterization lab, then move to the operating room for minimally-invasive heart surgery for their valve repair in the afternoon.

This highly advanced expertise is only available here at Iowa's lone comprehensive academic medical center. This minimally-invasive heart surgery will offer the ideal option for the right patients, both throughout the state and around the region.

From Theresa M. Brennan, MD
UI Heart and Vascular Center Medical Officer