The heart surgery team at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire has been performing minimally invasive valve surgery since late 2007. Mayo Clinic Health System is among a small number of hospitals nationwide doing minimally invasive valve surgeries.
Heart valve surgery is a procedure to treat heart valve disease. In heart valve disease, one or more of the four heart valves that keep blood flowing in the correct direction through your heart doesn’t function properly. In heart valve surgery, your surgeon repairs or replaces your heart valve.
During a minimally invasive valve replacement surgery, surgeons make a small incision between two ribs. The incision is about 2 1/2 inches long, instead of a foot-long incision in the middle of the chest for a traditional valve replacement surgery. Surgeons don't split the breastbone (sternotomy), which results in less pain and a quicker recovery for most people.
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The first days after surgery, patients who have had the minimally invasive procedure share the same experiences as traditional heart surgery patients, says Robert Wiechmann, M.D., a cardiovascular surgeon at Mayo Clinic Health System. The dramatic difference comes three or four weeks later.
“They’re moving better, they have less discomfort and they’re getting back to normal activities sooner than patients who have had their sternums divided,” Dr. Wiechmann says.
Minimally invasive heart valve surgery isn’t an option for everyone, but it offers many benefits in those for whom it’s appropriate:
If you are considering a valve replacement, you may be wondering if minimally invasive surgery is right for you or your loved one. There is no EASY button or magic ball to figure that out. Heart surgery of any kind is complex and there are risks. However, Mayo Clinic Health System has the most experienced and longest-serving heart surgery team in this part of the state. The team works with you to ensure a full, smooth recovery after surgery.
The surgical team has worked together for more than 10 years and performed thousands of surgeries, approximately 10 times more than other programs in the region have performed.