Types of Incisions Used in Minimally Invasive Heart Surgery

Partial Sternotomy - through part of the breast bone

A 3- to 4-inch long incision is made through the sternum, and the breast bone is separated in that area so the surgeon can see the part of the heart that needs surgery.

partial sternotomy

Used for mitral valve, tricuspid valve, epicardial lead placement, atrial septal defect (ASD), patent foramen ovale (PFO), myxoma, and aortic valve surgeries.

partial sternotomy

Used for ascending aorta, aortic valve, mitral valve, tricuspid valve, two valves, transaortic TAVR, ASD, PFO, myxoma and fibroblastoma surgeries.


The surgeon avoids cutting through the breastbone and, instead, cuts into muscles between the ribs to reach the heart.


Used for mitral valve, tricuspid valve, ASD, PFO, myxoma surgeries.


Used for aortic valve, transaortic TAVR and transaortic TEVAR surgeries.


Used for transapical TAVR, transapical TEVAR and epicardial lead placement surgeries.

Robotically assisted heart surgery

robotically assisted heart surgery

Used for mitral valve, tricuspid valve with mitral, ASD, PFO, atrial myxoma and fibroblastoma surgeries.

Robotically assisted heart surgery is performed through a small working incision and three other small incisions (ports) that are made in the spaces between the ribs. The surgical instruments are attached to the robotic arms. The instruments and a tiny camera are placed through the ports. Motion sensors are attached to the robotic “wrist,” so the surgeon can control the instruments.

Robotically assisted mitral valve surgery is performed using only the small port incisions.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/22/2019.


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