Doctors at the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute are performing minimally invasive heart surgeries without opening patients’ chests during major, open-heart surgeries.
Traditionally, surgeons cut open the chest and use their hands to hold or manipulate the heart during surgery. Using the minimally invasive approach, surgeons make a small incision through the ribs to access the heart and complete the procedure using state-of-the-art equipment and a tiny camera.
“This technique results in expedited recovery after surgery, a shorter hospital stay and allows our patients to return to normal activities more quickly,” Dr. Jeevan Nagendran said.
“Cosmetically, patients are left with a minimal scar below the breast rather than a large incision line down the centre of the chest at the sternum.”
Patients who could qualify for the procedure include those needing an aortic valve replacement or mitral valve repair or replacement; procedures which enable surgeons to repair or replace failing heart valves, or those diagnosed with atrial septal defect (ASD), a hole in the muscular wall that separates the heart’s two upper chambers.
Ten patients have undergone the procedure since the program was launched in May. Racha Kamal, 27, was one of them. He was diagnosed with ASD and was the first patient to undergo the minimally invasive procedure. Nagendran, an Edmonton native, asked his mentors, Dr. Bob Kiaii and Dr. Michael Chu from the London Health Sciences Centre, to monitor the first few cases.
“The prospect of a smaller scar, getting out of the hospital quicker and recovering faster all sounded great, but I wished they could have had a few patient success stories before it was my turn,” Kamal admitted.
“But for Dr. Nagendran to tell me he wanted his mentors there made me more comfortable and helped him earn my trust.
“There were so many advantages of having the minimally invasive procedure,” Kamal said. “I was out of the hospital faster, I wasn’t on long-term medication, and my recovery was faster. I’m so glad this option was available for me in my community.”
Donors to the University Hospital Foundation funded the purchase of the equipment used in the procedure.