Minimally Invasive

What Is Minimally Invasive Heart Surgery?

Phoenix Cardiac Surgery is committed to investigating and incorporating the most cutting-edge techniques to benefit our patients. Minimally invasive heart surgery is a technique that allows surgeons to operate on the heart through a smaller chest incision. Traditional open-heart surgery requires a 10-12 inch incision in the sternum, while minimally invasive surgery uses a much smaller incision of about 3-4 inches. As a result, there are typically fewer complications and a shorter recovery time.

Because the incision is smaller, minimally invasive heart surgery results in less trauma and lower blood loss. While your experience depends on your specific situation, here are some of the benefits of minimally invasive heart surgery:

  • Lower risk of infection
  • Fewer medications
  • Reduced scarring
  • Less pain
  • Faster recovery and shorter hospital stay
  • Reduced need for blood transfusion due to blood loss

What surgeries can be performed with minimally invasive heart surgery?

Your physicians at Phoenix Cardiac Surgery can perform the following procedures using a minimally invasive approach:

  • Aortic valve replacement
  • Atrial septal defects
  • Ascending aortic aneurysm repair
  • Mitral valve repair/replacement
  • Tricuspid valve repair/replacement
  • Patent foramen ovale

Is minimally invasive heart surgery right for me?

While minimally invasive heart surgery offers a number of benefits, it isn’t the right choice for everyone. Your physician will evaluate your specific situation to determine what options will meet your overall goals of lengthening your life, reducing risks, and offering you the best opportunity to regain your quality of life.

Speak with your physician to find out if minimally invasive heart surgery is the right choice for you.

Specific Surgeries: TAVR

What is TAVR?

Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement, or TAVR, is a minimally invasive surgical procedure where the surgeon repairs the aortic valve without removing the old, damaged valve. Instead, using a catheter inserted in the femoral artery (in the groin), a collapsible replacement valve is put in the aortic valve’s place.

Once in place, the new valve is expanded. It pushes the old valve out of the way and the replacement valve takes over the job of regulating blood flow from the heart.

Why is TAVR needed?

Your physician might recommend TAVR if it’s discovered that you have aortic valve stenosis, which means the “leaflets” of your aortic valve have become hardened. When that happens, the normal flow of blood from your heart can be reduced significantly, which then makes your heart work harder. If not treated, the condition can lead to death.

Aortic valve stenosis can be congenital (meaning, occurring from birth), or it can develop over time. Most commonly, aortic valve stenosis occurs during aging as calcium or scarring damages the aortic valve and keeps it from operating properly.

  • The symptoms of aortic stenosis include:
  • Fatigue, or reduced stamina
  • Chest pressure or pain
  • Heart palpitations
  • Fainting or dizziness

Who is a candidate for TAVR?

The traditional treatment for aortic valve stenosis is surgical valve replacement via open heart surgery. While this approach is very common, it can present high risk for certain patients, such as those who are of advanced age, who are frail, or who are suffering from other major medical conditions.

TAVR is an FDA-approved, minimally invasive treatment option for those who may not be able to undergo traditional treatment.

TAVR can be preferable because of its faster recovery time (24-48 hours), and because it allows most patients to return to their normal activities in just a few weeks.

Your physicians at Phoenix Cardiac Surgery are among the most experienced TAVR surgeons in the Southwest, and we regularly train others surgeons throughout the world in this procedure.

For more information:

Specific Surgeries: VATS

What is VATS?

Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery, or VATS, is a type of lung surgery used to remove cancerous and non-cancerous tumors. The surgeon makes small incisions in the side of the patient’s chest and inserts a small video camera to allow the surgeon to locate and remove the tumor. The advantage of this technique is faster recovery for the patient.

The procedure can be used to remove small portions or segments of the lung (called wedge resections or segmentectomies) or a lobe (3 lobes on the right lung and 2 lobes on the left lung) via a lobectomy. Lobectomies are considered the standard operation for lung cancer.

Why is VATS needed?

Your physicians at Phoenix Cardiac Surgery use VATS to perform a variety of operations, such as:

  • Biopsy to diagnose lung cancer, mesothelioma and other chest cancers
  • Esophagus surgery (esophagectomy)
  • Hiatal hernia repair
  • Lung surgery, such as surgery to treat lung cancer and lung volume reduction surgery
  • Procedures to remove excess fluid or air from the area around the lungs
  • Thymus gland removal surgery (thymectomy)

Who is a candidate for VATS?

Not all tumors can be removed safely with the minimally invasive VATS approach. If your physician determines VATS is not appropriate, a larger incision may be made in your side is created to provide access for the operation.

Specific Surgeries: Micro-MAZE

What is Micro Maze?

The Micro Maze treatment for atrial fibrillation (AFIB) is a minimally invasive procedure for treating AFIB that alters electrical pathways in the heart. Via the Micro Maze technique, the surgeon makes very small incisions (less than 1 inch) in the chest and inserts instruments and cameras into the chest cavity. Then microwave technology is used to create scar tissue on the heart’s upper chambers. This scar tissue blocks abnormal electrical activity that can cause AFIB, returning the heart’s normal rhythm.

The procedure typically involves minimal discomfort and has a very high success rate.

Why is Micro Maze needed?

The maze procedure is a surgical treatment for atrial fibrillation (AFIB), which is an irregular heartbeat that increases the risk of stroke and heart disease.

Signs can include:

  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue

Who is a candidate for Micro Maze?

If your AFIB cannot be controlled by medication, or if you can't take medication or anticoagulants, you may be a candidate for Micro Maze. Your surgeons at Phoenix Cardiac Surgery are regional leaders in Micro Maze and we regularly train others surgeons in this procedure.