The benefits of Keyhole Heart Surgery over Open Heart Surgery

Keyhole heart surgery and open heart surgery are two distinct approaches to treating heart conditions, differing significantly in technique, recovery, and risk.


Larger incision required with open heart surgery

Open heart surgery is the traditional method where a surgeon makes a large incision in the chest, often splitting the breastbone (sternotomy) to access the heart. This method allows for a direct view and access to the heart, enabling complex procedures such as valve replacements, coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG), and congenital defect repairs. Patients are typically placed on a heart-lung machine, which takes over the heart’s pumping action during the surgery.

In contrast, keyhole heart surgery – also known as minimally invasive heart surgery – involves much smaller incisions, usually between the ribs, avoiding the need to cut through the sternum. This approach utilises specialised instruments to guide the procedure. Common keyhole procedures include mitral valve repairs, atrial septal defect closures, and certain types of CABG. The heart-lung machine may still be used, but some procedures can be performed on a beating heart.


Longer recovery time with open heart surgery

The recovery process in open heart surgery is extensive due to the larger incision and more invasive nature of the procedure. Patients typically spend a week or more in the hospital, followed by several weeks of recovery at home, with restrictions on physical activities to allow the sternum to heal.

Keyhole surgery, with its smaller incisions, generally leads to a shorter hospital stay, often just a few days. The minimally invasive approach results in less postoperative pain, reduced scarring, and a faster return to normal activities. Patients usually experience a quicker overall recovery, resuming daily activities within a few weeks.



Open heart surgery carries higher risk

While both surgeries carry inherent risks such as infection, bleeding, and adverse reactions to anaesthesia, open heart surgery tends to have higher risks due to its invasive nature and longer operation time.

Keyhole surgery, though technically demanding and not suitable for all patients or conditions, typically has lower risk of complications, shorter operative times, and reduced need for blood transfusions.


Final Summary

In summary, keyhole heart surgery offers a less invasive alternative to traditional open-heart surgery, with the potential for faster recovery and fewer complications. However, the suitability of either method depends on the specific heart condition, the patient’s overall health, and the surgeon’s expertise.


Contact The Keyhole Heart Clinic, a heart clinic in London, to find out more information. 


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