Pain-Free, Non-Invasive Open Heart Surgery

Open heart surgery can be minimally-invasive in some cases.
Open heart surgery can be minimally-invasive in some cases.

BAY SHORE, NY – Heart valve repairs have often been treated with open heart surgery, but some people can have less invasive procedures and more quickly get back to their everyday lives.

Shirley Wong-Cruz is one of those people. She had surgery last month with Robert Kalimi, MD, vice chairman of cardiothoracic surgery at Southside Hospital, and his team to repair her mitral valve regurgitation through a small incision on her left side that did not involve breaking any bones and was done by going in between her ribs.

“The mitral valve prevents a leak of blood when the blood is pumping back into the lungs or the left chamber of the heart,” Dr. Kalimi said. “In a very select group of patients, like her, we can do the surgery in a minimally invasive way.”

Ms. Wong-Cruz was walking using a walker the day after her surgery and walked without assistance the following day.

“I knew this surgery was a success,” Ms. Wong-Cruz said. “I was able to get around the house, do some clean up and nine days later I was already walking my first mile.”

Dr. Kalimi noted it was a team effort.

“We have a great team of anesthesiologists, nurses and assistants,” he said. “We’ve put together a team that can do minimally invasive procedures for mitral valves, aortic valves and other procedures.”

Ms. Wong-Cruz was referred to Dr. Kalimi by Fred Fefer, MD, chief of medicine at Franklin Hospital, after she came to him experiencing worsening shortness of breath.

 “She’s back to exercising,” Dr. Fefer said. “She feels better than she felt before.”

Ms. Wong-Cruz, who is a mother of three and a physical therapist, did not experience any pain after her surgery and has gone back to work.

“Endurance-wise, strength-wise, I feel like I’m back to my normal life,” Ms. Wong-Cruz said.

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