Minimally Invasive Cardiac Surgery

Our Program

Our cardiothoracic surgeons have extensive expertise in minimally invasive cardiac surgery procedures, including heart valve procedures. We continue to refine these procedures as our skill and understanding grow and as new technology is introduced.

Standard open-heart surgery typically requires a procedure known as a median sternotomy (dividing the breastbone), considered one of the most invasive and traumatic aspects of open-chest surgery. A minimally invasive approach, on the other hand, allows access to the heart through small incisions and without stopping the heart, without separating the breastbone and ribcage, or without requiring a heart-lung machine to be used.

Minimally invasive procedures typically mean less pain and faster recovery times than those associated with traditional open methods.

Minimally invasive cardiac procedures offered at Keck Medical Center of USC include:

  • Cardiac electrophysiology service
  • MAZE procedure for treatment of atrial fibrillation
  • Minimally invasive direct coronary artery bypass (MIDCAB)
  • Minimally invasive heart valve surgery
  • Minimally invasive treatment for atrial septal defect (ASD)
  • Minimally invasive treatment for ventricular septal defect (VSD)
  • Multi-vessel small thoracotomy
  • Single-vessel small thoracotomy

Our Approach

With a history of aggressively advancing our minimally invasive surgery program, we performed the first robotic mitral valve surgery on the West Coast. We also were the first to adopt routine use of the minimally invasive transthoracic approach. We have become a center for teaching the procedures and techniques involved in minimally invasive valve surgery to surgeons in the United States. We want to give patients direct access to the latest treatment approaches, using innovation as a guide when conventional therapy is not an option.


Atrial and ventricular septal defects
Atrial fibrillation
Coronary artery disease
Heart valve disease

Treatments and Services

Maze Procedure

The Maze Procedure is surgery performed to treat atrial fibrillation, a common cardiac arrhythmia. During the procedure, a number of incisions are made on the left and right atria to form scar tissue, which does not conduct electricity and disrupts the path of abnormal electrical impulses. The scar tissue also prevents erratic electrical signals from recurring. After the incisions are made, the atrium is sewn together to allow it to hold blood and contract to push blood into the ventricle.

Minimally Invasive Maze Surgery
Minimally invasive maze surgery is performed through small keyhole incisions made between the ribs, through which a tiny camera and video-guided instruments are inserted. When appropriate, robots are used to assist the surgeon during the procedure.

This minimally invasive surgery eliminates the need for dividing the breastbone, does not require the heart to be stopped and does not require a heart-lung machine to be used. This often results in less pain, shorter recovery times and a lower risk of infection associated with open-heart surgery.

Robotic Surgery
USC cardiothoracic surgeons were the first surgical team in Southern California to perform heart surgery using the da Vinci(R) Surgical System, repairing the mitral valve of a patient using robotic surgery. We are devoted to conducting research to advance the use of robotic techniques in the fields of heart and lung surgery.

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