HOUSTON - Heart surgeons from around the world gathered in hi-tech labs at Methodist Hospital to learn the latest techniques in minimally invasive cardiac surgery.
Billed as "The Ultimate Hands On Re-Evolution Summit", the response was so great, some doctors were even turned away.
The cutting edge techniques they're learning in Houston will get patients back on their feet faster, experts said.
Dr. Mahesh Ramchandani is Chief of Cardiac Surgery and Director of Minimally Invasive Surgery at Methodist Hospital.
He told Local 2 this is a new era for a traditionally conservative field, but the benefits for patients are vast.
"Well, you don't get your sternum cracked open. You don't get your breastbone cracked open and I haven't met a single patient... who would like to have that done. Now the caveat is if you do it through a smaller incision, you need to be able to do it as good or better," said Ramchandani.
Instead of that telltale scar down a patient's chest, surgeons make tiny incisions and go through the ribs to perform procedures such as coronary bypass and heart valve replacement.
Ramchandani said the best candidates are people who have to get back to work early.
"They're the breadwinner in the family or they engage in physical activities that do not allow a long recovery period. The second group of patients (is) the exact opposite. These are the elderly people who are infirmed, that are frail," said Ramchandani.
Patients can be back to work within a week or so instead of facing around three months of recovery from heart surgery.
Very few doctors are highly skilled in these new techniques. Dr. Joseph McGinn, Chairman of Surgery at Staten Island University Hospital in New York told Local 2 the goal is to spread the expertise.
"We have new technology, we have new ways of doing things and we'd like to get that information and those techniques out to every surgeon in the United States and around the world," said McGinn.
Patient safety is the most important thing, so do your research and talk with your doctor to see if any of these new surgical techniques would be the best option for you.
Copyright 2013 by Click2Houston.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.