Minimally Invasive Aortic Valve Replacement (MICS AVR)Understanding minimally invasive surgery is important. Making the right decisions could change your life.
Minimally Invasive AVR (RAT)
Right Anterior Thoracotomy or RAT Approach
In this superior technique the aortic valve is approached between the ribs on the right side. No bones are cut. Exposure is excellent and the technique of replacement is similar to the open operation.
The advantages of this approach are
1. No bones are cut.
2. Significant reduction in pain.
3. It allows for much faster healing. The cut is a mere 4cms.
4. Skin infection is near zero and as no bone is cut the dreaded bone infection (Osteomyelitis) is eliminated.
5. Not cutting the bone also decreases blood loss during the operation and this in turn translates into significantly reduced need for blood transfusion.
Reduction in Wound Infection
Reduced Blood Transfusion
Reduction in Pain
Reduced Use of Narcotic Analgesia
What is Minimally Invasive Aortic Valve Replacement?
Minimally invasive Aortic Valve Replacement or MICS AVR often referred to as mini AVR or key hole aortic valve replacement is the technique of aortic valve replacement through a small non bone cutting incision from the right side of the chest. It was first performed in 1996. The first few MICS aortic valve replacements were performed by groups at the Harvard Medical School’s teaching Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and the Cleveland Clinic. MICS AVR has been performed for close to two decades and has an excellent track record of safety. When performed by trained surgeons who regularly perform minimally invasive procedures the outcome is definitely superior to the conventional technique.
There are two techniques by which MICS Aortic Valve Replacement can be performed. The Right anterior thoracotomy approach (RAT) does not require any bone to be cut. The Upper hemisternotomy technique requires the upper part of the sternum or breastbone to be cut.
As a technique the ‘RAT approach’ is superior but requires a skilled and experienced surgeon to perform the operation.
The Upper Hemisternotomy Approach
In this approach the upper part of the breast bone or sternum is cut. Only the upper 1/3rd of the sternum is cut leaving the lower one third intact. The skin cut is a mere 2 inches. This is a useful approach in those where a parasternal technique is considered difficult. The approach is useful in special situations where the entire aorta or the aortic root requires replacement (Bental procedure). Such an operation may be required when the aorta is enlarged above the aortic valve requiring replacement. Since the bone is cut this approach is considered inferior to the parasternal technique. It however has its role and is performed routinely the world over.
The recovery after the right anterior thoracotomy approach for aortic valve replacement is faster as no bones are cut. However not all patients are suitable for this approach. The decision on the right approach is made by the surgeon and depends on the anatomy.
The upper hemisternotomy technique involves cutting the upper 1/3rd of the sternum on one side. This cut in the skin is as small as the RAT approach and heals without complications. The pain is more than the parasternal approach though. Some restrictions to physical activity apply with this approach as the bone is partially cut. It should be noted that the recovery is much faster than open surgery.
Recovery after Minimally Invasive Aortic Valve Replacement
How soon can I resume brisk activity after my valve replacement?
Following a minimally invasive aortic valve replacement brisk activity can be resumed within a week. With the RAT approach (no bones cut) it can be resumed faster than with the upper hemisternotomy technique. Some patients are back to swimming within ten days after surgery. Brisk walking or normal daily activity is unrestricted after a week following replacement. Again it’s important to understand that the patients condition prior to the surgery will impact on their recovery after surgery. Onset of significant symptoms such as syncope or loss of weight in general mean that the disease is advanced or neglected and such patients may require longer to recover. Your surgeon should be able to tell you by his experience, on how long it would take for you recover in most instances.