Cardiac surgery at University of Miami Health System

Faster recovery time with a minimally invasive approach

Dr. Joseph Lamelas, chief of cardiac surgery at UHealth, University of Miami Health System, discusses the benefits of the Miami Method, a minimally invasive approach he pioneered and mastered for cardiac surgeries, including repairing or replacing the ascending aorta.

Dr. Joseph Lamelas is Chief of Cardiac Surgery at UHealth, the University of Miami Health System. For more information on a minimally invasive approach to cardiac surgery or to make an appointment, call 305-689-2784 or visit the UHealth health news blog.


Leo Gordon is thrilled to be alive and healthy after undergoing surgery to repair a fatal heart condition that went undiscovered for decades.

“I was making a scene in ICU just screaming that I was happy,” says Leo. “I was happy to be alive and I was happy they didn’t have to do open heart surgery.”

After being admitted to the hospital with other health concerns, doctors discovered Leo’s more serious heart-related problems, including a condition called aortic stenosis, a hardening of the heart valve that -- in Leo’s case -- resulted in a potentially-fatal aneurysm.

In urgent need of treatment, Leo turned to UHealth chief of cardiac surgery, Dr. Joseph Lamelas, a pioneer in the field of minimally-invasive heart surgery.

“We have patients come in for another concern and they end up needing heart surgery before they can address the problem they originally came in with,” says Dr. Lamelas. “It's important, because if the heart is not working properly during another major operation, the patient could go into heart failure during the procedure and it would alter the postoperative recovery.”

Dr. Lamelas used the minimally invasive technique he developed to replace the aortic valve and ascending aorta in Leo’s heart without opening up his chest. “It's a five centimeter incision between the ribs without breaking the ribs,” he says.

Replacing the valves and ascending aorta of the heart without open-heart surgery takes a level of skill and confidence that comes with decades of experience, says Dr. Lamelas, who has performed more than 500 cases over 30 years and published his results.

One of the biggest benefits of this minimally invasive approach is the quick recovery time. For Leo, this meant getting back to work as the head of his family’s plumbing business less than two weeks after leaving the hospital.

“I’m more awake now at 63 than even 20 years ago,” says Leo.

“His heart is now able to pump properly and pump enough blood to the brain and to the rest of the body,” says Dr. Lamelas. “His quality of life will definitely improve because he's getting more blood to every organ in his body.”

“My biggest reward is seeing the patient in the postoperative period. There's nothing more rewarding,” he says.


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