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Most patients with severe aortic valve disease and their families might find the search for their best surgical options challenging and frankly intimidating. Even physicians at times are not up to date on what can be routinely done to treat our surgical patients. This article will supply a working knowledge base on minimally invasive aortic valve surgery techniques that can assist our readers in their search for the best surgical solution to their heart valve problems.
The old fashioned type of surgery offered to aortic valve patients is performed through an 8' long split through the breast bone, known with the name of sternotomy or with the expression 'cracking the chest'. This bone splitting approach is still routinely offered as the only option in most centers that do not have minimally invasive surgery expertise.
Most patients are far from enthusiastic about this option but they are often led to believe that it is the only way to do it. That is no longer the case. Most reputable minimally invasive heart surgery centers can routinely offer a much less invasive aortic valve operation that has advantages well beyond their superior cosmetic results.
The faulty aortic valve can now be replaced or repaired through a 2' incision in between the ribs on the side of the chest. The connections to the heart lung machine are carried out through the same tiny incision and the valve is then repaired or replaced. A few stitches are then placed to close the incision and local anesthesia is injected to numb up the chest wall and the rib nerves. Most patient wake up nearly pain free. There is no bone breaking and a much easier and faster wound healing. Another advantage is a much smaller chance of bleeding and wound infection. The average patient can be released from the hospital two to three days after surgery with very little chest soreness.
Here is a good tip: once you have been told that an operation is necessary, the next step should be dedicated to investigating these minimally invasive options. Ask your doctor about them and if he or she is not up to date on the subject find some links to information or surgical videos that can create an opportunity to discuss your choices with your trusted physician. Most minimally invasive aortic valve surgery centers welcome any technical, clinical or academic inquiries from health professionals and their patients.
There is no reason to consider these new techniques far-fetched or futuristic. Most minimally invasive surgeons can routinely treat their patients through tiny incisions and deliver a much easier recovery after the surgery. It is increasingly common to see out-of-state patients travel hundreds or thousands of miles to reach a minimally invasive heart surgery center and get the best surgical treatment for their condition.