Minimally Invasive Robotic-assisted Mitral Valve Repair
When Timothy G., 63 years old, went for his routine physical, finding himself a patient of Dr. Arvind Agnihotri, chief of the Steward Center for Advanced Cardiac Surgery at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center, approximately 80 miles from his home in Keene, New Hampshire, was not even a thought.
According to Timothy, he was feeling ‘good’ before his yearly physical and was surprised that his doctor found a heart murmur. Neither was immediately overtly concerned but his doctor wisely wanted him to explore the murmur further and sent him to have an echocardiogram. What they found was serious – a mitral valve that was not closing as it should.
According to Timothy, in hindsight, he had a few mild symptoms. “I felt shortness of breath and occasionally felt like I overexerted myself but really just chocked it up to getting older. On a day-to-day basis, I was feeling fine.”
Timothy’s physician immediately sent him to a cardiac surgeon in Boston but Timothy had other ideas. After researching surgical options online, he learned about robotic-assisted mitral valve repair. He was interested in learning more about the procedure and if he was a candidate because of the minimized recovery time. Timothy, still active and employed in maintenance, wanted to be back on his feet as quickly as possible.
“What I found on the Internet is that the robotic procedure had a recovery time of one month while traditional surgery was more like two or three months,” Timothy explains. "I found Dr. Agnihotri myself. My primary care doctor was supportive and with his blessing I went to see him at St. Elizabeth’s.”
According to Dr. Agnihotri, Timothy was an ideal candidate for robotic-assisted mitral valve repair surgery.
“Robotic surgical technologies are very attractive to many patients who want to minimize and even eliminate some of the post-operative healing,” he says. “For Timothy, I was able to minimize incisions, blood loss and ultimately speed his road to recovery.”
After the procedure in early February 2013, Timothy’s only hiccup was the delay in his release due to the Blizzard of 2013.
“I spent an extra day in the hospital but I didn’t mind," he says. "I was treated really well by all the nurses.”
When he was discharged from the hospital, he was sent home with after-care instructions and stated that he didn’t need much pain medication. He completed a regimen of cardiac rehabilitation close to his home and his scarring is minimal – the biggest scar being two inches long below his right armpit.
“I would recommend this surgery,” Timothy says. “Recovery was even quicker than I had expected. Once I was home I expected to be down and out and bedridden for a couple of weeks, but it really was only a handful of days.”
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