Partial versus full sternotomy for aortic valve replacement

Ann Thorac Surg. 1999 Dec;68(6):2209-13; discussion 2213-4. doi: 10.1016/s0003-4975(99)00863-2.


Background: Recent trends suggest that smaller incisions reduce postoperative morbidity. This study tests the hypothesis that a partial upper sternotomy improves patient outcome for aortic valve replacement.

Methods: A group of 50 patients who underwent aortic valve surgery through a partial upper sternotomy (group I) were compared to 50 patients who underwent aortic valve replacement through a median sternotomy during the same time period (group II). The mean age (60+/-2 versus 63+/-2 years; mean +/- SEM) and preoperative ejection fractions (53+/-2 versus 54+/-2) were similar. Operations were performed with central cannulation, and antegrade/retrograde blood cardioplegia.

Results: There was one death in each group. No differences were found in aortic occlusion time, mediastinal drainage, transfusion incidence, narcotic requirement, length of stay, or cost. The incidence of pleural and pericardial effusions was increased (18.4% versus 3.9%, p < 0.03), and the need for postoperative inotropic support was higher (38.7% versus 19.6%, p < 0.03) in the partial sternotomy group.

Conclusions: Aortic valve replacement can be performed through a partial sternotomy with results comparable to full sternotomy. The partial sternotomy offers a cosmetic benefit, but does not significantly reduce postoperative pain, length of stay, or cost.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aortic Valve / surgery*
  • Female
  • Heart Valve Prosthesis Implantation*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minimally Invasive Surgical Procedures
  • Pain, Postoperative
  • Postoperative Care
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sternum / surgery*