Edmonton patients benefiting from new minimally invasive heart surgery program

Less scarring, quicker recovery times and fewer days in the hospital are among the benefits of a new program that is changing the way cardiac surgeries are performed at the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute.

The minimally invasive surgery program has been up and running at the institute in Edmonton since May, with 10 patients now having undergone successful procedures to fix valves or repair defects.

Traditionally, such surgeries are performed by cutting open a patient’s chest to give the surgeon access to manipulate the heart directly with his or her hands.

The minimally invasive approach uses a much smaller incision through the ribs. Surgeons insert a tiny camera, which transmits images of the heart on a video screen beside the operating table. A set of long, slender tools are then used to reach into the patient’s body and complete the procedure.

“It’s the same open heart surgeries we would do on a daily basis, but we leave the chest closed,” said Dr. Jeevan Nagendran, one of three cardiac surgeons at the Mazankowski now using the technique.

“The end of the instrument ends up becoming your fingertips, so you have to learn to get that tactile feedback from the instrument itself rather than being able to touch (the heart).”

Nagendran said the minimally invasive approach has been around for 15 years but did not gain widespread appeal until recently.

Facilities in Montreal and London, Ont., have been Canada’s leaders in using the technique. Select cases are also done in Calgary and Vancouver, but Nagendran hopes the Mazankowski will soon become the top centre for such surgeries in Western Canada.

The goal is to start performing about 50 such procedures a year before eventually ramping up to as many as 100 per year.

Racha Kamal, 27, was the first ever patient to get the procedure at the Mazankowski on May …read more

Source:: Edmonton Journal

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