Minimally Invasive Options Can Speed Recovery, Reduce Trauma

January 26, 2023

Woman in running clothesFor patients with aortic stenosis, mitral regurgitation, and stroke and bleeding risks associated with atrial fibrillation, the Structural Heart Program – part of Manatee Memorial Hospital’s Heart and Vascular Center – offers alternatives to open heart surgery.

What is structural heart disease?

Structural heart disease includes conditions in which the heart’s valves, chambers, or walls have damage or flaws that alter the flow of blood. These conditions may develop before birth or later in life, and early diagnosis often leads to better outcomes.

“Our Structural Heart Program enables interventional cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, cardiac imaging specialists and electrophysiologists to work together to look at each patient comprehensively, determine the diagnosis and implement the best course of treatment,” said S. Jay Mathews, cardiologist.

A minimally invasive alternative to open heart surgery

For decades, open heart surgery was the only way to treat people with structural heart conditions such as holes in the heart and aortic stenosis, which is caused when a valve isn’t able to open properly and leaks. Over the past few years, minimally invasive procedures have become available, giving many patients with structural heart disease an alternative treatment option to open heart surgery.

The minimally invasive options typically shorten recovery time, require fewer days in the hospital, lower the risk of infection and reduce trauma to the chest wall and heart. In 2019, the FDA expanded TAVR's indication to include low-risk patients. "The approval allows access for all patients with aortic stenosis to have greater treatment options with a lower risk of major complications," added Dr. Mathews. "The best treatment is determined through a consultation with other cardiologists and surgeons as well as the use of an algorithm the team has developed."

They also provide an alternative for patients who are ineligible for or at high risk from open heart surgery due to factors such as having a weak heart, other illnesses or advanced age.

Among the options:

“We use multidisciplinary teams working with different modalities to treat patients with a variety of cardiac issues,” said Dr. Mathews. “We find the right procedure for the right patient by having all the specialists working together to make that decision.”