Dr. Joseph Lamelas is chief of cardiac surgery at UHealth, University of Miami Health System. For more information on minimally-invasive cardiac surgery or to make an appointment, call 305-689-2784 or visit the University of Miami's health news blog
Angila Sinisgalli discovered severe damage to her heart’s mitral valve after undergoing a series of tests following a mild stroke in October 2018. On the advice of her cardiologist, she traveled to Miami from Naples, Florida, to meet with renowned cardiac surgeon Dr. Joseph Lamelas.
“We know that a severe leak in the mitral valve will have a long-term impact on survival if it’s not fixed early,” says Dr. Lamelas, chief of cardiac surgery at University of Miami Health System. During the consultation, Dr. Lamelas told Angila that if she did not take measures to repair the mitral valve within six months, her heart function would deteriorate.
The mitral valve is located between the left atrium and the left ventricle of the heart. When it is not closing properly, blood can leak backward into the left atrium. Over his 30-year career, Dr. Lamelas pioneered a minimally-invasive approach to repairing the heart called The Miami Method.
The surgery is performed through a small incision between the ribs, about 5 cm wide, making it “the least traumatic approach” to cardiac surgery, says Dr. Lamelas. “I then reconstruct the valve with a series of techniques, almost similar to a plastic surgery of the valve.”
Dr. Lamelas performs about eight mitral valve repairs each week, compared to the average heart surgeon in the United States, who may complete the same number over the course of a year. More experience in this procedure allows Dr. Lamelas to perform surgery on “just about any patient” who needs valve repair.
Patients benefit from a quicker recovery time. The average length of stay in the hospital is about three days and patients are back to a completely normal lifestyle within two weeks, says Dr. Lamelas.
“The recovery is amazing,” says Angila, who was interviewed just ten days after her surgery. “Each day I have more energy back.”
“Patients are looking for an excellent result through a lesser invasive approach, and that’s what we have here,” says Dr. Lamelas. “My goal is to establish the University of Miami as a center of excellence for cardiac surgery and a referral center that serves patients from all over the world.”
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