Departmental News


About 95,000 Americans undergo heart valve procedures each year for problems that are relatively common. They can be caused by congenital defects, aging, or an untreated infection. Left untreated, heart valve problems can lead to heart failure or life-threatening cardiomyopathy. Fortunately, advances in their surgical treatment offer patients considerable benefits.

In August 2007, our cardiothoracic surgery service performed the regionís first minimally invasive aortic valve replacement via a mini-thoracotomy (small incision between the ribs).

Performing aortic valve replacement through a small incision between the ribs in a new procedure that can reduce postoperative pain and scarring, and improve recovery time.

Comparison of resulting scars from open chest surgery (left) versus minimally invasive surgery via mini-thoracotomy.With traditional "open chest" cardiac surgery, surgeons typically divide the breastbone to reach the heart. Recovery time can take several weeks or months, and patients are left with a scar down the middle of the chest.

With the newly developed minimally invasive procedure, surgeons reach the heart through a smaller incision between the ribs, often only two inches long. They use special instruments as well as cameras to reach and operate on the heart through the smaller opening.

"The mini-valve procedure allows us to operate on the heart without 'opening' the chest ó typically our patients' greatest fear," says Todd K. Rosengart, MD, professor of surgery and chief of cardiothoracic surgery.

"Performing aortic valve replacement via mini-thoracotomy is another very exciting first for us and the region in minimally invasive cardiac surgery, complementing our existing off-pump surgery, mini-mitral repair surgery, and thoracic stent programs."

For consultations/appointments with our cardiothoracic specialists, please call 631-444-1820.

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