Minimally invasive cardiac surgery has evolved in response to the intrinsic irony facing cardiac surgeons: that we must injure our patients to treat them. In recent years, advances in fiberoptic imaging technology, applied to other surgical specialties, suggested the possibility that cardiac surgery might also be performed endoscopically. The anatomic and spatial constraints of pediatric cardiac surgery, and its dependence on extreme levels of speed, precision, and three-dimensional perception, made the application of remote, two-dimensional operating systems seem impossible, or at least imprudent in this special group of patients. Despite these limitations, however, applications of video-assisted endoscopic surgical techniques have been demonstrated to allow the safe and effective performance of an expanding range of operative procedures in congenital heart surgery. The guided development of new technology will accelerate this process in the coming years.
Division of Cardiovascular Surgery, Miami Children’s Hospital, Miami, FL 33155, USA.
This article first appeared in Current Opinion in Pediatrics, vol 10, October 1998.