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Owing to its obvious cosmetic appeal, minimal invasive repair of congenital heart defects (CHDs) through the mini right axillary thoracotomy is becoming routine in many centres. Besides cosmesis, and before becoming a new norm, it is important to establish its outcomes as safe compared to repairs through traditional median sternotomy.
Between 2013 and 2021, 116 consecutive patients underwent defect repairs through mini right axillary thoracotomy. Patient, operative data, and hospital outcomes were compared to contemporary mini right axillary thoracotomy and sternotomy series.
There was no mortality or need for approach conversion (mean age 4.3 years, range 0.17–17, mean weight 18.6 kg, range 4.8–74.4) in 118 repairs for atrial septal defect, ventricular septal defect, partial anomalous pulmonary venous return, partial atrioventricular canal with mitral cleft, scimitar syndrome, double-chambered right ventricle, cor triatriatum, and tricuspid valve repair. Protocol included on-table extubation, achieved in 97 children, with 23 outliers leading to 0.7 average hours of mechanical ventilation (range 0–66 hours), indwelling chest drain time of 2.6 days (range 1–9 days), intensive care stay of 1.8 days (range 1–10 days), and hospital stay of 3.9 days (range 2–18 days). Late revisions were required in one patient after scimitar repair for scimitar vein stenosis at 2 weeks, and in another for repair of superior caval vein stenosis after a Warden operation at 2 months; reoperations (5/116 = 4.3%) were successfully performed through the same mini right axillary incision.
While providing obvious cosmetic advantages, the minimally invasive right axillary thoracotomy approach for the surgical repair of common CHDs yields excellent results and is safe compared to the benchmark median sternotomy approach.
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