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Why Choose Penn Medicine

Penn Medicine’s cardiac surgeons are national leaders in performing minimally invasive heart surgery. Our experienced surgeons have used advanced techniques for years — we’ve performed nearly 1,700 minimally invasive heart procedures. We continue to perfect minimally invasive procedures to improve your experience and results.

The benefits of minimally invasive heart surgery include: 

  • Reduced pain after surgery
  • Lower infection risk
  • Smaller, less visible scars
  • Improved recovery times and shorter hospital stay
  • Fewer physical restrictions after surgery

Minimally Invasive Heart Surgery Treatment Options

Open-heart surgery is the standard approach for many cases because it provides your surgeon with clear access to and visualization of the heart. In most cases, open-heart surgery involves making an incision in the chest through the breastbone (sternotomy). Traditionally, sternotomy incisions were eight to 10 inches in length. 

Penn’s heart surgeons now routinely access the heart through smaller incisions and with specialized surgical instruments using these approaches:

  • Mini-sternotomy: a 3-inch incision in the upper part of the breastbone
  • Mini-thoracotomy/port access: a 2- to 3-inch incision between the ribs
  • Robotic: a 1.5- to 2-inch incision and two to four small port sites

Penn cardiac surgeons perform these less invasive alternatives to open-heart surgery:

Minimally Invasive Direct Coronary Artery Bypass (MIDCAB)

For patients with severe coronary artery disease, Penn surgeons provide an alternative to open-heart surgery. With MIDCAB, your surgeon uses smaller incisions and performs the procedure as your heart beats, so the heart-lung machine is unnecessary. MIDCAB effectively reroutes blood flow around damaged heart arteries (revascularization) with the benefits of minimally invasive surgery. 

Penn’s cardiac surgeons are some of the most experienced in the region in performing this technically challenging procedure. In most cases, we perform the procedure with robot assistance. 

Robot-Assisted Cardiac Surgery

The use of a robot to perform cardiac surgery may increase precision and safety because it allows for micro-movements that aren’t possible with the human hand. The robot also increases visualization of the heart beyond what is possible with the human eye. 

To perform robot-assisted surgery, your surgeon:

  • Creates several incisions between the ribs.
  • Inserts instruments through the incisions into the chest cavity.
  • Sits at a console and uses a camera attached to one of the instruments to view high-definition 3D images of the heart.
  • Uses the console to control the robotic arms, which move the instruments to perform the procedure.

Our highly skilled cardiac surgeons use the robot to treat:

Catheter-Based Treatments

Our cardiac specialists perform catheter-based procedures for heart conditions. This approach uses a tiny incision, usually in the groin. Specialists thread a catheter (a small tube) through a blood vessel into the heart. Next, they deploy life-improving devices through the catheter directly into the heart. Examples of treatments include:

Hybrid Operating Room

Our hybrid operating room offers advanced imaging capabilities. In this state-of-the-art suite, your care team can perform catheter-based procedures, minimally invasive surgical procedures and traditional operations. The benefit for patients is that specialists can perform multiple procedures at one time. 

At Penn, we use these rooms for cases where collaboration will result in improved outcomes, for example:

  • Cardiac and vascular surgeons working together to treat aortic aneurysms 
  • Interventional cardiologists and cardiac surgeons working together to treat heart blockages and valve disease

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