Minimally Invasive Aortic Valve Replacement is not just a matter of the incision, but it should be rather considered as a holistic approach to minimize surgical trauma: our technique aims to reproduce the gold-standard conventional procedure in terms of safety, effectiveness and operative time through a small and different incision; furthermore with a thorough optimization of the procedure, the surgical time can be at least equal to the classic approach. We introduced our approach about 10 years ago; after more than 1000 aortic valve replacement via right anterior mini-thoracotomy, we developed with some tips and tricks in the attempt of turning this technique into our choice approach. Indeed, it is our belief that a highly standardized technique is pivotal to perform a safe and valuable procedure.
On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak a pandemic: it took a toll of more than 300.000 deaths and more than 4.5 million cases, worldwide. The initial data pointed out the tight bond between cardiovascular diseases and worse outcomes in COVID19-patients. Epidemiologically speaking, there is an overlap between the age-groups more affected by COVID-related death and the age-groups in which Cardiac Surgery has its usual base of patients. The Cardiac Surgery Departments have to think to a new normal: since the virus will remain endemic in the society, dedicated pathways or even dedicated Teams are pivotal to treat safely the patients, in respect of the safety of the health care workers. Moreover, we need a keen eye on deciding which pathologies have to be treated with priority: Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) showed a higher mortality rate in patients affected by COVID19, but it’s however reasonable to think that all the cardiac pathologies affecting the lung circulation - such as symptomatic severe mitral diseases or aortic stenosis - might deserve a priority access to treatment, in order to increase the survival rate in case of an acquired-Coronavirus infection later on.
Keeping up with the surgical training might be difficult during the time of COVID-19 pandemic: with most of the health care resources dedicated to face this reality, trainees can improve themselves deep diving in scientific literature, study, Telemedicine and Social Media professional platforms. Moreover, they might be directly involved in COVID patient care, facing a still a still elusive disease with a high lethality rate. Often the frustration of having no valid treatment and a poor incisiveness on the natural course of the COVID19 could lead to a blue mood or a burnout. Eventually, the natural adaptability and the survival instinct prevail and teach us the real meaning of resilience. Every trainee has to be prepared for the second phase, when the new normality will force everyone to cohabit with the virus. Even the obvious teething troubles, this could be the right moment for all the Residents to “grow-up” and develop their own future Character.