Now, a three-inch incision on the sternum could be all it takes for cardiac surgeons to steer a catheter into the heart and set right a defect.

The Minimally Invasive Hybrid Cardiac Surgery (MIHCS), a combination of minimal access heart surgery and catheter interventions, provides a less traumatic option for heart patients and presents the next step in the evolution of heart surgery, say doctors at Fortis Malar Hospitals.

The technologically advanced proecudre and tools obviates the need to make a large opening on the chest bone in classical surgery, and involves shorter operating time, lesser post-operative ICU and hospital stay, K. R. Balakrishnan, Director, Cardiac Sciences, Fortis Malar told a press conference on Tuesday.

In minimally invasive hybrid procedures, surgeons gain access to the heart through a roughly three-inch hole in place of the 6-8 inch opening required in conventional surgery. The smaller incision translates into lesser pain and smaller post-op scar for the patient. Special umbrella devices and retractors are deployed to perform beating heart surgeries without the assistance of a heart-lung machine, doctors said.

The MIHCS is particularly useful in treating small children who may not be candidates for conventional Cathlab procedures, said Vijit Cherian, cardiac surgeon.

The team at Malar has performed the MICHS on patients requiring Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting, valve repairs, valve replacements and a range of congenital defects.