Closure of atrial septal defects via limited right anterolateral thoracotomy as a minimal invasive approach in female patients

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Objective: The closure of atrial septal defects via sternotomy is a low- risk and high-benefit procedure. Limited right anterolateral thoracotomy is an alternative approach with regard to cosmetic aspects. However, it is discussed that a lateral approach is not appropriate for more complex lesions and is associated with an increased incidence of phrenic nerve damage. Methods and results: The perioperative and long-term outcomes (mean follow- up time: 73.2 months) of 87 female patients, mean age 20.4 years (range: 3- 56 years), operated on for all types of atrial septal defects via limited right anterolateral thoracotomy between 1982 and 1993, were analysed retrospectively. Special features of the operation technique were a limited skin incision, protection of mammary gland tissue, prevention of phrenic nerve damage, and aortic cannulation in all patients. There were no intraoperative complications. Postoperative complications occurred in 12/87 patients including one rethoracotomy for postoperative bleeding and one late pericardial tamponade due to coumadine overdose. Follow-up was assessed by a survey obtained by the patients or their parents, and their family doctors in 79 patients (90.8%) Cardiac symptoms, mostly supraventricular arrhythmias, were observed in 13.9%. Echocardiography revealed mild tricuspid valve regurgitation (one patient) and mild mitral valve incompetence (one patient with ostium primum defect); there were no residual shunts. Cosmotic results were considered good and excellent in 87.3% and satisfactory in 8.9%. Three patients (3.8%) complained of a broad scar. Anaesthetic areas and optional scar pain were quite frequent (16.5%), whereas restriction of shoulder movement, breast asymmetry and scoliosis were rare. In summary, only one patient, suffering from intercostal neuralgia, would prefer sternotomy. Conclusion: Limited right anterolateral thoracotomy has a high cosmetic acceptance and was proven to be safe and effective for closure of any kind of atrial septal defects. Therefore, it is recommended as standard approach for atrial septal defects especially in female patients.




Däbritz, S., Sachweh, J., Walter, M., & Messmer, B. J. (1999). Closure of atrial septal defects via limited right anterolateral thoracotomy as a minimal invasive approach in female patients. European Journal of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery, 15(1), 18–23.

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