While surgery is generally the most effective way to treat disorders of the heart, lungs and esophagus, traditional open surgery has a number of inherent drawbacks related to a sternotomy – the surgeon’s way of gaining access to the thoracic space by making a large incision, splitting the breastbone and spreading the ribs. In addition to an 8 to 10″ scar down the center of one’s chest, a sternotomy leads to a lengthy recovery time of eight to twelve weeks as well as a prolonged delay before patients may expect to return to normal daily activities.
Some cardiothoracic procedures may be performed using a laparoscopic technique, which allows for smaller incisions through which the surgeon inserts a miniaturized video camera to view the area being treated. However, this approach has limitations and is not well suited to more complex surgeries.
The da Vinci® Surgical System provides surgeons and patients with the least invasive, yet highly effective treatment alternative for even the most complex cardiothoracic procedures such as mitral valve repair and coronary artery bypass.
Mitral Valve Repair
The mitral valve utilizes two flaps that control blood flow to the heart and also prevent it from flowing backwards. Failure of the second flap to seal properly is referred to as prolapse or regurgitation, and it can make the heart work harder and increase the risk of heart failure. This condition can occur in both men and women of all ages; and while the mitral valve is sometimes abnormal from birth, it can also be damaged by infection or heart disease.
The main treatment for severe mitral valve prolapse is to repair or replace the valve through surgery. Repair is preferred over replacement, if possible, because it has been shown to improve survival rates. A successful repair may also eliminate the need for either lifelong use of blood-thinning medicines or future surgeries to replace weakened replacement valves.
The da Vinci difference for mitral valve repair
Because mitral valve repair can now be achieved through minimally invasive robotic surgery, patients are able to realize the benefits of the da Vinci Si System. And, based upon a national multicenter study, use of the da Vinci Surgical System instead of open surgery for mitral valve repair may increase patients’ chances of avoiding total valve replacement in the future.
Coronary Artery Bypass (Coronary revascularization)
Coronary artery disease occurs when the arteries bringing blood to the heart narrow or become clogged by plaque, a buildup of fat, cholesterol, calcium and other substances in the blood. If plaque loosens and breaks off a blood clot can form, resulting in a blockage that slows blood flow to ones heart. Heart attacks occur when blood flow to an area of the heart is completely blocked, which can also result in serious health problems or even death.
Severe cases of coronary artery disease require surgery to widen or unblock clogged arteries and increase blood flow to the heart. This surgery is known as coronary artery bypass or coronary revascularization.
The da Vinci difference for coronary artery bypass
In addition to the other benefits of minimally invasive robotic surgery, patients experiencing a da Vinci coronary artery bypass no longer have to rely on the use of a heart-lung machine which typically takes over function of the heart during traditional surgery. For many patients, an off-pump approach may reduce serious complications either during or after surgery.
More da Vinci® applications
While clinical studies support the effectiveness of the da Vinci® System when used in minimally invasive surgery, individual results may vary. Surgery with the da Vinci Surgical System may not be appropriate for every individual. Always ask your doctor about all treatment options, as well as their risks and benefits.