Wow! Painless cardiac surgery! Is that even possible you say? After all, the standard notion of heart surgery is that your chest is cracked open and the heart is “taken out, worked on and put back in”. Let’s take all this one step at a time.
To get to the heart, we have to go through the chest wall, either by making an opening between the ribs or by splitting the breast-bone in the front. The heart never gets taken out, unless it is a heart transplant procedure.
It is possible to get access to specific areas of the heart by using Minimally Invasive Cardiac Surgery (MICS) techniques. This depends on the comfort level and the experience of the surgeon and his/her team.
Traditionally, if the breast-bone is split at the beginning of the procedure, the pieces are brought back together and lashed together with wire. We developed a technique at the University of Chicago, whereby we use plates and screws custom-built for the breast-bone or sternum. The figure shows the plates and screws used to close the breast-bone.