“What Are The Risks Of Mini-Sternotomy Compared To A Full Sternotomy?” Asks Jenny

Jenny just sent me a very interesting question about surgical approaches for heart valve repair. She writes, “Dear Adam – I was just diagnosed with severe mitral regurgitation. I have regular degenerative mitral valve prolapse. An annuloplasty valve ring has been recommended as well. I’m thinking of having a mini-sternotomy and wondering what the risks are compared to a full sternotomy? Are there any other approaches that might be advantageous for me? Thanks, Jenny”

Chest With A Mini-Sternotomy Scar
Mini-Sternotomy For Heart Valve Surgery

To provide Jenny with an expert opinion, I contacted Dr. Harold Roberts, a leading heart valve surgeon, from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Cardiac Surgeon, Dr. Harold Roberts
Dr. Harold Roberts – Heart Valve Surgeon

So you know, during his 25+ year career, Dr. Roberts has performed over 3,500 heart valve procedures. Here is Dr. Roberts’ response to Jenny’s question:

Dear Jenny – For the properly selected patient, mitral valve repair via a minimally invasive approach is a safe, effective procedure that greatly reduces pain, infection, blood loss, recovery time as well as conferring superior cosmesis.  My preferred method is the robotic endoscopic approach in which the largest incision in the right side of the chest is only 2/3’s of an inch.  Patients commonly require only a 3-4 day hospitalization, and typically return to full activities within 2-3 weeks.

Comparing Robotic Valve Surgery Incision To Sternotomy

Cardiac maladies that are readily treated with this approach include severely leaking mitral and/or tricuspid valves, atrial fibrillation, certain cardiac tumors, and atrial and ventricular septal defects.  The main requirement for using this approach instead of a traditional chest incision (sternotomy) are normal or well stented coronary arteries.

In selecting the surgeon for this type of procedure, it is important to determine his/her experience.  Ask the surgeon point blank case volume and results with minimally invasive surgery.  These types of procedures have difficult learning curves, and it is imperative to opt for the surgeon with years of experience in traditional and minimally invasive complex mitral valve reconstruction.

Best Regards,
Dr. Roberts

Thanks to Jenny for her question and a special thanks to Dr. Harold Roberts for sharing his clinical work and expertise with our community.

Keep on tickin!

Adam Pick
Written by Adam Pick

Adam Pick is a patient, author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery and the founder of HeartValveSurgery.com.

To learn how Adam has helped millions of people with heart valve disease, watch Adam's video, subscribe to his free newsletter, or visit his Facebook, or Twitter pages.

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