Minimall Invasive Heart Procedures

Minimally Invasive Heart Procedures  

St. Vincent’s has long been a leader in cardiology, known for providing innovative new treatments and care. Our physicians are at the forefront of emerging technology and less invasive methods for treating heart problems.

Heart SurgeryIf you need a heart procedure, the first question to ask your doctor is whether you’re a good candidate for a minimally invasive approach. If you are, you can find the experienced medical professionals you need close to home—at St. Vincent’s HealthCare in Jacksonville. As a long-time leader in cardiology, we’re well known for our skilled physicians and surgeons who offer you innovative new treatments and exceptional care.

How You Benefit

Less invasive options for heart procedures use several tiny slits instead of the traditional open surgery that requires a long incision in the chest. That means you benefit from:

  • Less blood loss
  • Less pain and scarring
  • Lower risk of infection
  • Faster healing and recovery
  • Quicker return to the life you love

Minimally Invasive Heart Procedures We Offer

Take advantage of the cardiac experts at St. Vincent’s HealthCare to treat your heart condition with these minimally invasive procedures.

Aortic Valve Replacement

Aortic valves need to be replaced for a variety of reasons. The valve may be leaking or could be blocked.

Open Surgical approach

Aortic valves are typically replaced by opening a patient’s chest through the sternum. Patients are put on a heart and lung machine that takes over their breathing and pumping of their blood while the surgeon replaces the heart valve through a large, open incision.

Minimally Invasive Approaches

Minimally invasive approaches done at St. Vincent’s eliminate the need for both a sternotomy and the heart and lung machine.

  • Minimally Invasive Surgical Valve Replacement

Surgeons make a small keyhole incision to the right of the breastbone. Patients are left with a scar easily covered with a small bandage versus having their breastbone cut in half. This minimally invasive approach offers patients less pain, a shorter recovery and less chance for infection. Surgeons that practice at St. Vincent’s train surgeons from across the nation on how to perform this minimally invasive approach.

For elderly, frail patients--- this procedure is offering a new lease on life. Until a few years ago, this patient population was deemed inoperable and therefore was not eligible for valve replacement. These patients essentially were hanging on to life but now TAVR is offering them new hope. St. Vincent’s was the first hospital in the region to perform TAVR. A small incision is made to gain access to a vessel and the catheter is fed through that vessel all the way to the heart. The catheter carries the new valve and is then deployed via the catheter. This minimally invasive procedure is offering new hope and life to some of our sickest heart patients. Learn more about aortic valve replacement surgery from our online Health Library.

Mitral Valve Replacement

Patient’s need mitral valve replacements when their mitral valve is severely narrowed or constricting blood flow. Patient’s can also have the opposite problem where the mitral valve is too loose and leaks blood back into the left atrium and lung. In both instances, the valve may need to be replaced.

Open Surgical approach

The open surgical approach calls for typical open heart surgery where the breastbone is cut and the patient is put on a heart and lung machine while the surgeon replaces the valve.

Minimally Invasive Approach

At St. Vincent’s, physicians prefer to use a minimally invasive approach when appropriate. Approximately 80% of isolated valve surgery cases at St. Vincent’s are performed using this approach that calls for a small incision through the ribs on the right side. The surgeon is able to access the damaged valve between the ribs with special surgical instruments. It’s easy to see why this minimally invasive approach is less traumatic for the patient and provides quicker healing time, shorter hospital stays and less pain.

Mitral Valve Repair


Many patients can have their mitral valve repaired versus being replaced. There are enormous benefits to repairing your native valve versus replacing a valve with a mechanical or tissue prosthesis. The data is overwhelming in terms of long term survival and complications being lower with repair versus replacement. Surgeons at St, Vincent’s have an extensive experience in complex mitral valve repair with a very high success rate.

Minimally Invasive Approach

Most complex mitral valve repairs can be done through a minimally invasive approach. Either procedure outweighs valve replacement. Younger patients especially benefit from repair and long term have better outcomes. The minimally invasive approach is the same in both repairs and replacements. Risk of infection, blood loss is dramatically reduced and patients leave the hospital sooner with less need for pain medication and a quicker return to normal health.

Atrial Septic Defects

These are heart defects present at birth. The left and right atrium (compartments of the heart) is separated by a septum. If that septum is defective or missing entirely, blood is able to go back and forth between the left and right atrium. This can cause an array of problems like shortness of breath, congestive heart failure and stroke. This condition can go unnoticed for years because it is often asymptomatic.


Atrial septic defects can be closed with a minimally invasive approach. Physicians guide a catheter into a blood vessel and are able to close the hole with surgical mesh through that catheter. The heart tissue grows around this mesh---permanently sealing the hole. This procedure is best for small defects.

Minimally Invasive Approach

Patients with larger defects are best treated with a minimally invasive surgical approach—closing the hole with a patch. Similar to aortic and mitral valve surgery these are done through a small keyhole incision on the right side of the chest.

Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation, often referred to as AFIB, is the most common type of heart rhythm disorder or arrhythmia. It leads to a greater risk of stroke, heart failure and death. As many as three million Americans experience AFIB. Symptoms include fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, palpitations, irregular heartbeat, chest discomfort and dizziness. St. Vincent’s is a leader in the treatment of AFIB and home to the St. Vincent’s Atrial Fibrillation Institute.

Minimally Invasive Approaches

  • Catheter Ablation (non-surgical approach)

During this procedure, small catheters are placed into the patient's veins and arteries in the legs, arm or neck and then passed to the heart. High-frequency electrical impulses are used to stimulate the arrhythmia and then destroy the abnormal tissue causing it.

  • Mini Maze (minimally invasive surgical approach)

The surgeon makes several small incisions on the side of the chest to gain access to the heart. Through these small incisions the surgeon places special surgical instruments (a camera and an ablation or burning device) into the chest. The ablation device is used to burn the tissue causing the irregular heartbeat. The subsequent scar tissue stops this heart tissue from beating irregularly. The surgeon does the entire procedure while watching the beating heart on a TV screen. The heart-lung machine is not used. Because the surgical mini-maze has a higher success rate but is slightly more invasive--- it is considered a second line therapy.

Robotic Minimally Invasive Bypass Surgery

Single Blocked Artery

Utilizing the daVinci surgical robot, the surgeon constructs a bypass to a single blocked vessel (the left anterior descending or LAD which is the most important artery in the heart) through a small keyhole incision on the left side of the chest.

Multiple Blocked Arteries

Hybrid Revascularization allows for treating multiple blocked vessels by combining robotic bypass with coronary artery stenting. Both single and multiple blocked artery procedures are done in our hybrid operating suite with cardiac surgeons and an interventional cardiologist working in concert.

Unlike traditional open heart surgery that requires a sternotomy or use of the heart lung machine both of these approaches require neither and offer patients numerous benefits including less pain, reduced risk of infection and shorter recovery and hospital stays.

Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR)

The revolutionary TAVR procedure gives high risk surgical patients a chance they didn’t have before. Thousands of individuals suffering from aortic stenosis are now candidates for a healthier heart and can enjoy an easier path to recovery.

Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) is a minimally invasive procedure that uses a device called the Sapien valve to replace the compromised valve in the heart. Doctors create a small incision through the femoral artery and steer the Sapien valve through a catheter to the heart. The wire mesh valve is then locked into the aortic opening with the aid of an inflatable balloon, replacing the degenerative valve. Learn more

Lariat Procedure

Afib patients have an increased risk for strokes--- but there is new hope thanks to something called the Lariat procedure.  Afib patients have irregular heartbeats and that can result in blood pooling in the left atrial appendage of your heart. The pooling can cause blood clots and clots can lead to stroke. To prevent that, many patients take blood thinners but now there is a solution for select patients. The Lariat is a lasso-like device that is inserted via a catheter making the procedure minimally invasive. When it arrives at the left atrial appendage, doctors are able to literally lasso the appendage to tie it off. The result is no more pooling of the blood, decreased stroke risk and the elimination of blood thinners. To find out if you’re a candidate contact the St. Vincent's Atrial Fibrillation Institute at 904-308-AFIB (2342).


Check This Out...
Get more information about minimally invasive procedures at St. Vincent’s Healthcare.
Email us Today!
Minimally Invasive Heart Procedures


Cardiac Procedures


Mini Maze

Ask the Doctor - February 8, 2014

Roxy Tyler of WOKB radio and the heart care experts from St. Vincent’s Healthcare talk about less invasive heart procedures available at St. Vincent’s.

Download Podcast