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      Recovery time shortened with new heart surgery

      Aortic valve replacement is traditionally an open-heart surgery that requires doctors to break a patients sternum, and that means a lot of recovery time.

      But, a new procedure being offered at the Webber Heart Center at Munson is minimally invasive and it's sending patients home to recover in record time.

      That was the case for Sheila Gallop. As a registered nurse, it didn't take long for Sheila to notice something was wrong when she was constantly out of breath and exhausted.

      "I was sleeping so much, probably 20 out of 24 hours a day," Sheila says. "I mean, you'd do a little bit of something and then you'd go lay down."

      After a few doctor visits, Sheila was referred to Dr. Mack Stirling, a cardiothoracic surgeon at the Webber Heart Center at Munson who determined she needed her aortic valve replaced. Dr. Stirling told Sheila that she was a candidate for a new minimally invasive procedure that didn't involve cracking her sternum, which Munson began offering in May of 2012.

      "Patients seem to recover more quickly and have less pain," Dr. Stirling says. "In addition, it allows patients to go back to work and do heavy lifting much more quickly than they were able to do so before."

      That's certainly true for Sheila who walks up to a half-mile per day.

      Aortic valve replacement is a fairly common procedure and only has a mortality rate of one or two percent. Even though the minimally invasive procedure is more difficult to perform and more time-consuming, it offers peace of mind for patients.

      It means that we are on the cutting edge of new heart surgery," Dr. Stirling says. "We are offering patients the best available and doing everything we can to make their heart surgery a better experience."

      Not everybody is a candidate for this procedure, so make sure you discuss your options with your physician. You can find more information by clicking here.