Minimally Invasive Heart Surgery Procedures for Adults

The University of Chicago Medicine is home to a thriving minimally invasive cardiac surgery program that offers a wide range of surgeries that can be performed less invasively through small incisions. All of these procedures provide several benefits compared to traditional, open approaches--from a reduced hospital stay and less pain, to minimal scarring and a much quicker recovery. It is possible for more than one type of heart problem to be treated at the same time.

Coronary Artery Disease & Angina (Chest Pain)

We offer a variety of approaches to coronary artery bypass surgery to achieve revascularization. Each patient's case is evaluated for the best approach. In some instances, we collaborate with interventional cardiologists to use coronary stenting techniques in addition to bypass grafts. This hybrid approach allows us to extend the benefits of minimally invasive bypass surgery to a broader patient population.

Transmyocardial Laser Revascularization (TMLR)
TMLR is a technique that uses lasers to create new channels of blood flow to the heart to relieve severe chest pain (angina) in patients with coronary artery disease. TMLR is sometimes performed in addition to coronary bypass surgery, but it is also an option for patients with acute angina who are not candidates for bypass surgery or angioplasty. This procedure can also be performed via very small incisions using the da Vinci Surgical System.

Heart Valve Disease

Procedures to fix leaky (regurgitation), infected, or narrowed (stenosis) valves can be performed through small incisions, sometimes with the assistance of the da Vinci surgical robot. Our surgeons aim to repair valves before opting for valve replacement. Collectively, our surgical team has more experience performing minimally invasive valve surgery than any other hospital in the greater Chicago area. Procedures include:

  • Aortic valve repair or replacement
  • Mitral valve repair or replacement
  • Pulmonary valve repair, plus removal of clots and other procedures
  • Tricuspid valve repair or replacement

»Learn more about surgery for heart valve disease

Atrial Fibrillation

Surgeons use special devices that emit radiofrequency waves (modified electrical energy) to create small scars on the heart's surface. These scars stop the erratic impulses of atrial fibrillation to help restore a normal electrical pathway through the heart. Our surgeons can treat atrial fibrillation as a stand-alone procedure or in conjunction with coronary bypass surgery or treatment of valve disease. This procedure can also be performed with robotic assistance through very small incisions. »Learn more about surgery to treat atrial fibrillation

Heart Failure

Implantation of Ventricular Assist Devices
The CardioVad is a unique ventricular assist device that can be implanted through a small incision at the side of the chest. The CardioVad boosts the pumping action of a weak heart, and can be used as a permanent alternative to heart transplant.

Biventricular Pacing
For some people with heart failure, the ventricles may not contract in a synchronized way--significantly affecting the pumping action of the heart. To correct this problem, physicians can insert a special biventricular pacemaker to stimulate the ventricles to contract properly. Insertion of the pacemaker and leads can be done through small incisions at the side of the chest.

Congenital Heart Disease

Some forms of congenital heart disease can be successfully treated without opening the chest. Congenital heart defects that can be treated with minimally invasive surgery include:

  • Atrial septal defect
  • Patent ductus arteriosus
  • Ventricular septal defect
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