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Advantages of a mini right axillary thoracotomy for congenital heart defect repair in children

Part of: Surgery

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 May 2021

Jannika Dodge-Khatami
Department of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Cardiology, Southshore University Hospital, Bay Shore, USA
Ali Dodge-Khatami*
Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Division of Pediatric and Congenital Heart Surgery, Cohen Children’s Medical Center, New Hyde Park, USA
Author for correspondence: Ali Dodge-Khatami, MD, PhD, Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Division of Pediatric and Congenital Heart Surgery, Cohen Children’s Medical Center, 1111 Marcus Avenue, Suite M15, New Hyde Park, NY 11042, USA. Tel: 1 (601) 918-4758; Fax: 1 (516) 601-7380. E-mail:



The mini right axillary thoracotomy is an alternative surgical approach to repair certain congenital heart defects. Quality-of-life metrics and clinical outcomes in children undergoing either the right axillary approach or median sternotomy were compared.


Patients undergoing either approach for the same defects between 2018 and 2020 were included. Demographic details, operative data, and outcomes were compared between both groups. An abbreviated quality of life questionnaire based on the Infant/Toddler/Child Health Questionnaires focused on the patient’s global health, physical activity, and pain/discomfort was administered to all parents/guardians within two post-operative years.


Eighty-seven infants and children underwent surgical repair (right axillary thoracotomy, n = 54; sternotomy, n = 33) during the study period. There were no mortalities in either group. The right axillary thoracotomy group experienced significantly decreased red blood cell transfusion, intubation, intensive care, and hospital durations, and earlier chest tube removal. Up to 1 month, parents’ perception of their child’s degree and frequency of post-operative pain was significantly less after the right axillary thoracotomy approach. No difference was found in the patient’s global health or physical activity limitations beyond a month between the two groups.


With the mini right axillary approach, surrogates of faster clinical recovery and hospital discharge were noted, with a significantly less perceived degree and frequency of post-operative pain initially, but without the quality of life differences at last follow-up. While providing obvious cosmetic advantages, the minimally invasive right axillary thoracotomy approach for the surgical repair of certain congenital heart lesions is a safe alternative to median sternotomy.

Original Article
© The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press

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