New technologies in minimally invasive valve surgery mean improved outcomes and shorter recovery times for patients with complex heart, pulmonary and esophageal disease. University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center physicians in the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery are on the forefront of these new technologies as they look to strengthen the CT (cardiothoracic) program at UNM Hospitals.
“We want to expand our clinical patient volumes by adding state-of-the-art programs to our system and improve quality and outcomes as well,” said Dr. Marco Ricci, chief of the Cardiothoracic Division.
One of those state-of-the-art advances is minimally invasive mitral and aortic valve surgery. In the old days, surgeons had to make a full incision in the center of a patient’s chest. With new advances in technology, UNMH surgeons can now perform these same operations with smaller incisions, said Dr. Mohammed Hassan, who specializes in adult cardiac and minimally invasive cardiac surgeries.
Hassan is a recent addition to the CT Division. He completed his cardiothoracic surgical training at the University of Miami in Florida and continued honing his craft in a one-year fellowship in Robotic and Minimally Invasive Cardiothoracic Surgery at Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio. “These advances allow patients to return to their regular activities sooner and lessen the post-operative restrictions,” Hassan said.
Worldwide, physicians perform some 700,000 heart surgeries a year - more than a third of those are valve surgeries. And it's a safe procedure, with a low mortality rate of 2.4 percent.
Ricci said another focus related to increasing patient volumes is getting the word out to physicians statewide about the surgical approaches and patient-centered care offered by the division’s surgical staff, nurse specialists and other providers at UNMH.
What is Minimally Invasive Mitral Valve Surgery?
Mitral valve regurgitation is the most common form of valvular heart disease. It happens when the mitral valve in the heart doesn’t close properly when the heart pumps out blood. As a result, blood leaks from the left ventricle back into the left atrium.
This condition is usually caused by degeneration of the valve with age, infection, or it can be a birth defect (congenital).
During surgery, mitral valves can be repaired or completely replaced with bioprosthetic or mechanical valves.
The Cardiothoracic Division team now offers these two options using a small incision in the right chest.
What is Minimally Invasive Aortic Valve Surgery?
Aortic valve stenosis is when the aortic valve closes up, which limits the flow of blood to the body.
The narrowing of the aortic valve happens for three primary reasons:
· Progressive wear and tear of a bicuspid valve
present since birth (congenital).
· Wear and tear of the aortic valve in the elderly.
· Scarring of the aortic valve due to rheumatic fever as a child or young adult.
The Cardiothoracic Division team can replace a defective aortic valve with less invasive surgery,
resulting in a faster recovery time.
Why Minimally Invasive Valve Surgery?
- Less pain
- Less trauma to the body
- Shorter time on breathing machine
- Less need for blood transfusions
- Less scarring and cosmetic results
- Less risk of chest infection or complications
- Less time in hospital and intensive care unit
- Faster recovery and return to normal activity