Tiny Incisions, Big Breakthroughs

Organization: Service: Story Topics:
Heart Disease

Innovative options for healing hearts

Less Is More

Traditional open heart surgery requires opening the chest through an 8 – 10 inch incision. But times have really changed.

The Robotics and Minimally Invasive Cardiac Surgery Program offers a comprehensive approach that benefits patients in many ways. Reduced trauma to the body translates to less pain and scarring, less blood loss, reduced risk for blood transfusions, and faster recovery.

Saddleback Memorial and cardiac surgeon Jeffrey D. Lee, M.D., are the first in South Orange County to offer residents these remarkable robotic and minimally invasive heart surgeries.

“Just a few tiny ‘keyholes’ are made between the ribs to allow robotic arms and a tiny 3D camera access to the heart. At the nearby console, I guide the instruments inside the chest and can perform the same heart surgeries that in the past required opening the patient’s entire chest,” says Dr. Lee. “When a robotic approach is not the best option, we use other minimally invasive approaches with just a 3 – 4 inch incision. Although we always seek to perform our surgeries less invasively, our top priority is patient safety. If a bigger incision is required, we always do what’s best for the patient.”

Experience that Matters

Dr. Lee joins Saddleback Memorial as medical director of robotics and minimally invasive cardiac surgery. His new role is backed by 15 years in clinical practice as a cardiothoracic surgeon, throughout which he has performed over 2,000 open heart surgeries. In addition, he recently completed two year-long advanced clinical fellowships in robotics and minimally invasive cardiac surgery with the world’s foremost experts at the Cleveland Clinic and the University of Maryland.

The team of cardiologists and cardiac surgeons at Saddleback Memorial works collaboratively to ensure the highest quality of patient care.

“The world of cardiology and cardiac surgery is constantly changing. From the days when 
David Perkowski, M.D. pioneered off-pump coronary artery bypass surgery or ‘beating heart’ surgery, and now with the experience and expertise Dr. Lee brings with his robotic and minimally invasive approaches, Saddleback Memorial 
remains on the cutting edge of cardiac surgery,” says interventional cardiologist 
Michael Gault, M.D.

Dr. Lee adds, “I chose to join the team at the MemorialCare Heart and Vascular Institute at Saddleback Memorial because everyone here is forward-thinking and always puts the patient first. The assembled team of cardiac experts are well trained and committed to bring this community world-class heart care.”

Know Your Options

“If you or someone close to you is diagnosed with heart disease, it’s important to be well informed. Do your research, and consult with one of the skilled cardiologists or cardiac surgeons at the MemorialCare Heart and Vascular Institute at Saddleback Memorial. We take the time to discuss all options – surgical and non-surgical – that are most appropriate for you,” says Dr. Lee.

Featured physician:

Jeffrey D. Lee, MD

Medical Director, Robotics and Minimally Invasive Cardiac Surgery at Saddleback Memorial
  • Cardiothoracic / Thoracic Surgery
Featured physician:

David J. Perkowski, MD

Medical Director Cardiovascular Surgery & Research, MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute at Saddleback
  • Cardiothoracic / Thoracic Surgery
Featured physician:

Michael J. Gault, MD

Medical Director of Cardiology at Saddleback Memorial Medical Center
  • Cardiology, Internal Medicine