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 Surgeon operates on patient using minimally invasive technique next to a  monitoring device.

Innovating Heart Care With Minimally Invasive Procedures

Feb 09, 2021

When most people think about heart procedures, they often picture open-heart surgery.
However, minimally invasive procedures can repair many common cardiovascular concerns with small incisions.

Some of these procedures are made possible through the power of the catheter, a thin tube that can thread through arteries in the leg, arm, or groin and reach the inside of the heart. Doctors typically use this device to diagnose cardiovascular conditions, but these tools can also repair the problem. Using this method, doctors can:

  • open blocked arteries with angioplasty,
  • remove blood clots with thrombectomy, or
  • correct irregular heart rhythms with ablation.

These minimally invasive procedures have gained popularity as less traumatic alternatives since they only require a few minor incisions and allow surgeons to work inside the body using cameras and scopes. This procedure can have real benefits for eligible patients.

How Minimally Invasive Surgery Works

To begin this type of cardiac procedure, a surgeon first makes three or four incisions no more than 3- to 4-inches long — much smaller than the single 6- to 8-inch incision required in open-heart surgery. These incisions are made in your chest to access your heart through openings between your ribs.

For an electrophysiology procedure (EP), there are two options: a catheter ablation and the AV node ablation. Both of these involve the surgeon inserting a catheter to create scarring to correct electrical impulses.

Common Minimally Invasive Cardiac Procedures

These common cardiovascular surgeries benefit from robotic assistance:

  • Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting (CABG). This treatment for coronary artery disease (CAD) begins with a surgeon taking a healthy artery or vein and attaching it to the coronary artery to bypass a blockage and improve blood flow.
  • Mitral Valve Repair. This therapy involves a surgeon either adding a ring or other device to the valve, which strengthens it, or removing unnecessary tissue and reshaping the valve.
  • Atrial Fibrillation Ablation. This procedure is used to treat irregular heart rhythms, also called arrhythmia, and is done using a catheter to help eliminate the erratic or faulty electrical signals in your heart.

Benefits of Robotic-Assisted Surgery

Since robotic procedures require only a few small incisions, the patient often experiences many benefits, including:

  • Significantly less pain
  • Less blood loss
  • Lower risk of infection
  • Less scarring
  • Shorter recovery time
  • A faster return to normal daily activities

With minimally invasive surgery, patients experience much less tissue trauma and reduced recovery times. At St. Joseph Health, we are using advanced technology that is very intuitive.

St. Joseph Health was the first health system to introduce heart care to the Central Texas region, and we continue to develop innovative advancements in cardiac care. With advanced heart surgery suites and an unmatched team of experts, we offer surgical treatments for even the most complex cases. And when traditional heart surgery isn’t an option, we find new solutions. Schedule a one-on-one consultation today.