Newer surgery technique eliminates chest scar and reduces recovery time

Austin, TX – September 28, 2010 Cardiothoracic surgeons at Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgeons, P.A. (CTVS) now perform minimally-invasive heart surgery to treat heart valve defects.

About 95,000 Americans undergo heart valve procedures each year for valve defects, complications caused by congenital defects, aging, deterioration, or an untreated infection. If left untreated, heart valve problems can lead to heart failure or life-threatening cardiomyopathy, a serious disease where the heart muscle becomes weakened and does not function properly.

Traditionally, surgeons perform heart valve procedures with “open chest” techniques where they divide the breastbone to reach the heart. Recovery time can take several weeks or months, and patients are left with a large scar down the middle of their chest.

“One of the most common fears patients communicate to me is the scar they will be left with after the surgery. This newer, minimally-invasive procedure allows us to effectively treat the valve with smaller and more discreetly located incisions. That translates to less blood loss, a shorter hospital stay and a faster recovery time,” explains Dr. John “Chip” Oswalt, cardiothoracic surgeon and president of CTVS.

44-year-old Scott Halfmann underwent the newer procedure on September 22. He travelled more than 350 miles from Midland, Texas to have Dr. Oswalt perform his surgery at Heart Hospital of Austin.

“I heard Dr. Oswalt was doing the newer procedure in Austin and I didn’t want a huge scar down the middle of my chest, not only because of what it would look like, but because of how long the recovery would be for me. I’m a farmer and I need to get back to work as soon as possible,” explains Halfmann.

Dr. Oswalt repaired Mr. Halfmann’s mitral valve and reached his heart through a smaller incision located at the ribcage, about two inches long. He then used special instruments, as well as cameras to operate on the heart through the smaller incision.

“We are excited to offer a less invasive approach to heart surgery at Heart Hospital of Austin. It’s another example of our commitment to providing the best cardiac care to the people of Central Texas and beyond,” says Oswalt.

The newer procedure is used to treat mitral valve disease, aortic valve disease, tricuspid valve disease, atrial septal defects and coronary artery bypass grafts.