Lourdes Hospital cardiothoracic surgeons perform minimally invasive heart valve repair or replacement surgeries using small incisions and specialized instruments to operate on heart valves.

During a minimally invasive heart valve surgery, the breastbone is not divided and retracted as in open heart surgery. Surgeons use a two-inch keyhole incision in the patient's chest to gain access to the heart and perform the procedure laparoscopically.

These surgeries may take longer and require a surgeon with a higher level of surgical skill. Not all people are candidates for this minimally invasive type of surgery, especially those who have atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) or obesity.

Heart valves that have narrowed (stenosis) because of degenerative changes or valves that do not close tightly and allow blood to leak back in the wrong direction (regurgitation) require surgery to repair or replace them so that blood can flow properly through the heart.  Because faulty valves place increasing stress on the heart, causing shortness of breath, weakening of the heart muscle, enlarging of the heart, and, in many case can cause congestive heart failure or stroke, it is important that experienced, specialized cardiothoracic surgeons intervene to correct the problem.

Repair means that the valve is mended to help it work better. Replacement means the diseased valve is removed and a new valve, either mechanical or biologic, is inserted in its place. The surgeon decides whether to repair or replace a valve based on the extent of damage to the valve.   

Using advance techniques and technology, the surgeon can repair the tissue of the damaged valve by reshaping prolapsing (floppy) leaflets, opening fused leaflets or removing calcium deposits. The surgeon can then implant an annuloplasty ring to provide extra support and to tighten the valve. Valve repair is the method of choice for surgical treatment of mitral valve disease because it maintains the natural anatomy of the heart valve.

Advantages of Minimally Invasive Valve Surgery

  • Reduced loss of blood during surgery
  • Fewer side effects associated with large incisions
  • Reduced hospital stay
  • Less pain
  • Shorter recovery time
  • Less scarring