Minimally Invasive Axillary Repair

Minimally invasive axillary repair heart surgery describes the initial approach in repairing certain congenital heart defects in children. In the minimally invasive axillary repair, the surgeon enters the chest through the right side instead of the middle of the chest. The benefit of this is that it can help the child recover faster, without a large scar in the middle of the chest. Children as young as a few months old may be able to have this type of procedure.

The board-certified and fellowship-trained specialists at Norton Children’s Heart Institute, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, will determine if a minimally invasive axillary repair is appropriate for your child.  When not appropriate, they will be able to discuss and offer the alternative open heart surgeries most appropriate to treat your child’s congenital heart defect.

Norton Children’s Heart Institute is the leading provider of pediatric heart care in Louisville and Southern Indiana.

The Society of Thoracic Surgeons has rated Norton Children’s Heart Institute’s pediatric heart care among the best in the region. Norton Children’s has a network of outreach diagnostic and treatment services conveniently located throughout Kentucky and Southern Indiana.

What Heart Conditions Can Be Repaired Through a Minimally Invasive Axillary Approach?

The most common defect repaired through a minimally invasive axillary approach is an atrial septal defect. Additional defects also can be repaired through this approach. Although not all atrial septal defects can be repaired through this approach, our surgeons will be able to identify the approach that is best to repair your child’s congenital heart defect.

What Happens During a Minimally Invasive Axillary Repair?

Although the surgeon is not entering the center of the chest, the minimally invasive axillary repair is still heart surgery. Your child will be put to sleep by our cardiac anesthesiologists, who specialize in giving anesthesia to children with cardiac defects. After your child is asleep and positioned in the operating room, a Norton Children’s Heart Institute cardiothoracic surgeon will:

  • Reach the heart by going between the third and fourth ribs on the right side of the body instead of opening up the middle of the chest.
  • Perform heart surgery through the right atrium to repair the congenital heart defect.
  • Close the right-sided incision after the repair is performed.

This procedure usually repairs the congenital heart defect in one operation. Your child will have a follow-up test called an echocardiogram that will show the completed repair after the operation. The scar from the surgery incision will be on the side of your child’s chest, under the armpit. The scar will be in an area that is hidden under the right arm when your child is standing.

Minimally Invasive Axillary Repair Complications and Follow-up Care

Recovery from a more invasive type of surgery can last four to six weeks in younger children and six to eight weeks in older children. The recovery time after a minimally invasive axillary approach can be shortened to less than one week. After this procedure, your child will see a pediatric cardiologist for follow-up visits when needed.

Why Choose Norton Children’s Heart Institute

No other congenital heart surgery program in Kentucky, Ohio or Southern Indiana is rated higher by the Society of Thoracic Surgeons than the Norton Children’s Heart Institute Pediatric Cardiothoracic Surgery Program.

  • Norton Children’s Hospital is a pioneer in pediatric cardiothoracic surgery, performing Kentucky’s first pediatric heart transplant in 1986 and becoming the second site in the United States to perform an infant heart transplant.
  • Our board-certified and fellowship-trained pediatric cardiovascular surgeons are leaders in the field as clinicians and researchers.
  • More than 5,000 children a year visit Norton Children’s Heart Institute, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, for advanced heart care.
  • Norton Children’s Heart Institute successfully performs more than 17,500 procedures a year.
  • The Society of Thoracic Surgeons rated Norton Children’s Heart Institute among the best in the region after studying years of our patients’ outcomes and our ability to treat a range of pediatric heart conditions, including the most severe.
  • Norton Children’s Heart Institute has satellite outpatient offices in Ashland, Bowling Green, Campbellsville, Elizabethtown, Frankfort, London, Madisonville, Murray, Owensboro, Paducah and Shepherdsville in Kentucky; as well as Corydon, Jasper, Madison and Scottsburg in Indiana; 28 tele-echocardiography locations in Kentucky and Southern Indiana; and six fetal echocardiography locations across Kentucky.
  • The American Board of Thoracic Surgery has awarded the cardiothoracic surgeons at Norton Children’s Hospital with subspecialty certification in congenital heart surgery.
  • The Jennifer Lawrence Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU) is the largest dedicated CICU in Kentucky, equipped with 17 private rooms and the newest technology available for heart care.
  • Our multidisciplinary approach to pediatric heart surgery brings together our specialists in cardiothoracic surgery, cardiology, anesthesiology, cardiac critical care and other areas to create a complete care plan tailored for your child.
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