Background: Although the use of small incisions is theoretically appealing, it has been argued that the true advantage of minimally invasive approaches to myocardial revascularization lies in the avoidance of cardiopulmonary bypass.
Methods: Of 25 patients referred for surgical revascularization of single-vessel coronary disease, 20 elected to undergo a minimally invasive coronary artery bypass grafting (MICABG) procedure, while 5 opted to have conventional surgery with cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB). Patients having MICABG underwent single-vessel revascularization without CPB, via limited anterior thoracotomy, hemisternotomy, or median sternotomy. Intraoperatively, hemodynamics, anastomotic time, and total operative time were recorded. Postoperatively, length of hospital stay, incidence of myocardial infarction, indexes of end-organ function, and morbidity rates were recorded. In addition, patient questionnaires were used to assess subjective end points such as postoperative pain, wound drainage, and quality of life.
Results: Fifteen of 20 patients undergoing MICABG underwent revascularization without CPB, while 4 were converted to standard coronary artery bypass grafting with CPB due to technical reasons and 1 for intraoperative ventricular fibrillation. Patients undergoing MICABG had no perioperative myocardial infarctions, while those having CPB had two infarctions (20%). Furthermore, there were no differences in length of stay or postoperative morbidity among the various approaches, while the MICABG procedures, especially via median sternotomy, were associated with shorter operative times.
Conclusions: The advantage of MICABG lies mainly in the avoidance of CPB. Thus, we advocate that surgeons initially utilize the median sternotomy and limited skin incision for MICABG to assure adequate exposure, technical precision, and patient safety. After a reasonable level of technical proficiency and experience are attained, the limited anterior thoracotomy approach can be used.