The aim of this study was to define the relative role of a right minithoracotomy (RT) versus standard median sternotomy (ST) for open aortic valve replacement (AVR).
A retrospective analysis was performed of all 1348 patients undergoing isolated, open AVR at a single institution during a 14-year period. Because relatively few patients were technically suitable for redo AVR with the RT approach (n = 20), all redo patients (n = 209) were excluded, leaving 1139 patients available for analysis. Patients converting from RT to ST approach (n = 15) were analyzed separately.
Relative to ST (n = 672), the RT patients (n = 452) were older with more stenosis but with more recent operation year, lower rate of congestive heart failure, higher ejection fraction, lower rate of endocarditis, and lower rate of renal disease than the ST AVR patients (all P < 0.0001). Right minithoracotomy AVR was associated with longer cardiopulmonary bypass times [157 (25) vs 131 (38), P = 0.0004] and clamp times [103 (20) vs 85 (27), P < 0.0001] but less transfusion (1.4 vs 3.4 U, P = 0.0003), less chest tube output (405 vs 950 mL, P < 0.0001), fewer reoperations for bleeding (0.4% vs 4%, P < 0.0001), shorter length of stay (6 vs 8 days, P = 0.03), and lower rate of atrial fibrillation (15% vs 20%, P = 0.03). Stroke, operative mortality, and survival were not significantly different between the groups.
Given the biases of retrospective propensity-adjusted analysis, these data suggest that RT AVR is a safe alternative to ST AVR in selected patients, with advantages of avoiding sternotomy with associated bleeding, transfusion, and delayed wound healing, at the expense of longer pump and clamp times.