Article Abstract

Minimally invasive mitral surgery through right mini-thoracotomy under direct vision

Authors: Alison F. Ward, Eugene A. Grossi, Aubrey C. Galloway


In the 1990s, the success of ‘minimally invasive’ laparoscopic operations in other surgical subspecialties sparked an interest in minimally-invasive approaches for cardiac surgery, specifically for mitral valve repair. In 1996 at New York University (NYU) we began our experience with minimally invasive mitral valve repair performed through a small right anterior mini-thoracotomy incision using the Port-Access system in a phase I clinical trial. This was the beginning of our extensive right mini-thoracotomy experience for mitral valve repair at NYU. Currently at our institution the preferred approach for the right mini-thoracotomy mitral valve surgery is through the 3rd or 4th interspace mini-thoracotomy incision. Perfusion is accomplished with direct aortic or femoral cannulation, long femoral venous cannula drainage, and a retrograde cardioplegia catheter placed trans-atrialy in the coronary sinus under TEE guidance. An antegrade cardioplegia and venting needle is placed in the ascending aorta and direct external aortic clamping is achieved with one of several specialized crossclamps. With over four decades of experience, more than 4,000 patients have undergone mitral valve repair at NYU including 1,922 performed through a right mini-thoracotomy. We have reported an overall operative mortality of 1.3%, 8-year freedom from reoperation of 95%, freedom from reoperation or severe recurrent mitral regurgitation of 93%, and freedom from all valve-related complications of 90% for our initial series of 1,071 right mini-thoracotomy mitral valve repair. Based on our extensive experience we believe that mitral valve repair through a right mini-thoracotomy provides a durable and safe alternative to a traditional sternotomy with the benefits of improved cosmesis, reduced post-operative pain, less blood loss with fewer blood transfusions, fewer infections, shorter length of stay, and faster return to activity. It is our standard of care approach for mitral valve surgery.