Training For Minimally Invasive Heart Surgeons
Let me start with a strong statement: As with any surgical technique, minimally invasive and bloodless surgery cannot be mastered overnight. I have refined and developed my minimally invasive heart surgery practice throughout my career and I can routinely offer these surgical services to my patients. Read more about Dr. Ciuffo’s training and experience.
The majority of heart surgeons who practice these procedures are out of their “comfort zone” because they did not have the time, opportunity, or willingness to familiarize themselves with the details and nuances that come with making minimally invasive heart operations so successful.
A median sternotomy and the liberal use of blood transfusions is still what is commonly offered in most cardiac surgery centers by cardiac surgeons who have good results with old fashioned traditional heart surgery techniques.
Searching For Minimally Invasive Heart Surgeons
If you are looking for a coronary surgical service able to offer you the most advanced minimally invasive and bloodless heart surgery techniques, don’t hesitate to ask the hard-hitting questions. Here are a few tips for your interview:
- Does your surgeon routinely perform valve surgery through minithoracotomies? An expert minimally invasive surgeon does.
- What percentage of his or her valve patients are offered minimally invasive surgery? A reputable minimally invasive heart center can use these advanced techniques in over 90% of the cases.
- What percentage of his coronary operations are performed on the beating heart (without the use of the heart-lung machine)? An expert in beating heart surgery will offer this techniques routinely in well over 90% of his coronary patients
- Does he perform MIDCAB’s and MICS CABG operations, minimally invasive coronary surgery through a minithoracotomy?
- What percentage of his mitral valves are repaired and not replaced? An expert mitral valve surgeon has a repair rate of over 95%.
- Here is a question I always recommend for Jehovah’s Witnesses who need cardiac surgery but absolutely refuse a blood transfusion, even at the cost of risking their own lives: “What overall percentage of your surgical patients require blood transfusions?” If bleeding is not an option, one should not be settling for a surgical service “willing” but not “used” to perform bloodless procedures. Your best bet is to look for a surgical service that “routinely” applies bloodless surgery techniques to the clinical benefit of all their patients. This routine approach allows surgeons to develop a service with low rates of blood transfusion and a much higher confidence to deliver good results in those cases when the use of blood products is not allowed at all for personal or religious reasons.
These are the type of questions that might help you get a sense of what could be done for you. If you do not get a positive answer you still have the option to consult with a reputable Minimally Invasive Heart Surgery Center. You certainly do not need to be a Hollywood star or a famous fashion model to demand a scarless or minimally invasive operation routinely available to most of our patients.
I want you to know that more and more people are willing to travel quite a distance out of town to get the right operation for them. It often starts with a simple phone call and the mailing or e-mailing of some detailed clinical information. I have personally seen and treated an increasing number of patients who come from out of state specifically looking for a minimally invasive and/or bloodless surgery option they could not find back home. Doing some serious shopping about it is a very reasonable thing to do. After all, it’s your body, it’s your heart, it’s your life! You are definitely worth the extra mile.