Minimally Invasive Heart Surgery

Rapidly growing advances in minimally invasive heart surgery are leading to faster recoveries and a higher level of patient satisfaction. A minimally invasive procedure also means less visible scarring. At Sentara RMH Heart and Vascular Center, our expert heart surgeons are at the forefront of performing minimally invasive surgery for patients with heart conditions.

  • Minimally invasive heart surgery

    Minimally invasive heart procedures use a 2-3” incision to access the area rather than splitting the breastbone. The goal of minimally invasive surgery is to provide you with the most precise surgery possible while causing you less pain and scarring. The most common minimally invasive heart surgery is heart valve repair.

    At Sentara RMH Heart and Vascular Center, cardiothoracic surgeons use minimally invasive procedures for:

    • Mitral valve repair or replacement
    • Aortic valve replacement
    • Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting
    • Thoracic Aneurysm Repair
  • Benefits

    At Sentara RMH Heart and Vascular Center, we believe that when it comes to surgery, less is more. We aim to use minimally invasive surgical procedures to treat your cardiac condition so you experience less pain and a quicker return to your daily activities. One of the greatest benefits of minimally invasive heart surgery is avoiding a sternotomy, a surgical procedure to open the chest.

  • Am I a candidate for minimally invasive heart surgery?

    Your surgeon will work with you to determine whether you are a candidate for minimally invasive heart surgery. It is important to discuss valve repair or replacement options before the procedure. In most cases, your surgeon can only be sure whether a damaged valve can be repaired or will have to be replaced after the surgery is already in progress. Learn more about the valve repair vs. valve replacement.

    Keep in mind that although we strive to provide you with the least invasive surgery possible, sometimes your surgeon may decide that a traditional, open approach is better. We always have your best outcome in mind.

  • What to expect

    Whenever possible, we perform minimally invasive heart surgery for most single-valve repair and replacement surgeries. Though each surgery is different, in general, this is what you can expect during a minimally invasive heart surgery. Your cardiac surgeon will:

    • Make a small incision without splitting the breastbone
    • Perform the surgery using specialized surgical instruments that permit him/her to operate on the heart in a smaller space

    Read our minimally invasive heart surgery FAQs.

  • Recovery

    Every patient is different, and every patient’s recovery will be different. However, here is what you can typically expect after minimally invasive heart surgery:

    • You will spend one day in the cardiac surgery intensive care unit.
    • The next day, if there are no complications, we will move you to a regular room.
    • You may begin some type of cardiac rehabilitation almost immediately. It may be as simple as swinging your legs over the side of the bed or walking a few steps. These are important milestones in regaining your independence after surgery.
    • We will discharge you within three to four days.
    • The nursing staff and your physician will give you guidelines on incision care, diet and activity levels.
    • You continue your rehabilitation as an outpatient.
    • You can look forward to resuming your regular routine within two weeks after surgery, including driving. If your work is sedentary (a lot of sitting down), you might return to work within two to four weeks. You may be ready for heavy lifting or more strenuous activities in four to six weeks.

    At Sentara RMH Heart and Vascular Center, our cardiac team is committed to patient education. We want you to be as informed and educated about your medical decisions as possible. For your convenience, we have compiled some frequently asked questions about minimally invasive heart surgery. As always, we are available to discuss your surgery with you in person and answer any questions you may have.