FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
The Swedish Heart & Vascular Institute maintains its leadership position in cardiovascular medicine by providing high-quality patient care and the latest and best surgical options - including minimally invasive heart surgery.
Why don't more hospitals and surgeons offer minimally invasive heart surgery?
Minimally invasive heart surgery requires the skills of a team of cardiac specialists, including surgeons, cardiac anesthesiologists, perfusionists, assistants and the operating room nursing staff. Each team member has specific and unique responsibilities, and each team member must be very proficient in those responsibilities to ensure the best possible patient outcomes. The Swedish Heart & Vascular Institute is widely recognized for its experienced and highly trained teams of cardiac specialists.
Does minimally invasive surgery really shorten the recovery time and mean less pain?
Yes. One of the advantages of minimally invasive surgery is a smaller incision, which means less surgical wound to heal. When there is less healing, your body can heal much faster and this essentially reduces the recovery period from four to eight weeks with conventional open surgery to two to four weeks with minimally invasive surgery. You will still experience some pain at the site of the incision, but because the incision was smaller there will most likely be less pain and it will go away more quickly.
Are there any disadvantages to minimally invasive cardiac surgery?
The biggest disadvantage is that, unfortunately, not everyone is a good candidate for a minimally invasive cardiac procedure. However, surgeons are still discovering new ways to apply the techniques of minimally invasive cardiac surgery, so with time more and more people will be able to benefit from the procedure. Also, minimally invasive cardiac surgery does require a longer time in the operating room, but that is offset by a shorter time in the hospital and a speedier recuperation.
When can I return to most of my normal day-to-day activities, including driving a car?
Only your surgeon can give you a precise answer, and that will be based on your medical history and your specific surgical procedure. But as a rule of thumb, patients who have undergone a minimally invasive cardiac procedure are usually able to resume most or all of their normal, everyday activities - including driving - within two to four weeks after their surgery. Returning to strenuous activities will probably take longer, generally from six to eight weeks.
Cardiac Surgery1600 E. Jefferson Street
Seattle, WA 98122
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One Patient's Story
He found a happy option to open-heart surgery.