What is Minimally Invasive Surgery?

Minimally invasive heart surgery involves making small incisions in the right side of your chest to reach the heart between the ribs, rather than cutting through the breastbone, as is done in open-heart surgery.

Sometimes, minimally invasive surgery includes a partial sternotomy. This involves cutting through part of the breastbone. When possible, the heart surgeon can avoid cutting the breastbone and instead make one or more small incisions through the muscles between the ribs. This technique is called a mini-thoracotomy.

Minimally invasive heart surgery can be performed to treat a variety of heart conditions. Compared with open-heart surgery, this type of surgery might mean less pain and a quicker recovery for many people.

Potential benefits

Minimally invasive heart surgery is not an option for everyone but for those who can have the surgery, the potential benefits when compared with open-heart surgery can include:

  • Less blood loss
  • Lower risk of infection
  • Reduced trauma and pain
  • Shorter time in the hospital, faster recovery, and quicker return to normal activities
  • Smaller, less noticeable scars