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Minimally invasive surgical techniques aim at reducing the consequences of currently used large incisions, such as bleeding, pain, and risk of infection. Although this new approach developed rapidly in coronary surgery, it remains questionable in mitral valve surgery. This article reports the longest experience with minimally invasive mitral valve surgery, with particular attention to approach and techniques.


From February 1996, the date of the first case of minimally invasive mitral valve reconstruction, to April 1997, 22 patients with a mean age of 54 ± 2.7 years were subjected to mitral valve surgery performed with less invasive techniques. Exposure of the mitral valve was achieved through a minithoracotomy (n = 12) or a ministernotomy (n = 10). Video assistance was used in all cases. Peripheral arterial cannulation (n = 21) and venous drainage (n = 22) were used in most cases.


In this series, valve surgery consisted in 19 repairs, two replacements, and one closure of a periprosthetic leak. In two cases it was necessary to convert to a larger incision. The average duration of cardiopulmonary bypass was 157 ± 8.2 minutes, ventilatory assistance 16 ± 4.6 hours, and intensive care unit stay 2.1 ± 0.4 days. Two patients required reoperation for bleeding and another for early recurrence of mitral valve regurgitation. There were no deaths and all patients were discharged with normal valve function. At most recent follow-up, all patients were in functional class I, with resumption of normal activity.


Mitral valve surgery can be performed safely by means of less invasive techniques, but with increased technical difficulty. A low asymmetric median sternotomy seems preferable to an anterior thoracotomy.

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