How to start a minimal access mitral valve program
The seven pillars of governance established by the National Health Service in the United Kingdom provide a useful framework for the process of introducing new procedures to a hospital. Drawing from local experience, the author present guidance for institutions considering establishing a minimal access mitral valve program. The seven pillars of governance apply to the practice of minimally invasive mitral valve surgery, based on the principle of patient-centred practice. The author delineate the benefits of minimally invasive mitral valve surgery in terms of: “clinical effectiveness”, including reduced length of hospital stay, “risk management effectiveness”, including conversion to sternotomy and aortic dissection, “patient experience” including improved cosmesis and quicker recovery, and the effectiveness of communication, resources and strategies in the implementation of minimally invasive mitral valve surgery. Finally, the author have identified seven learning curves experienced by surgeons involved in introducing a minimal access mitral valve program. The learning curves are defined as: techniques of mitral valve repair, Transoesophageal Echocardiography-guided cannulation, incisions, instruments, visualization, aortic occlusion and cardiopulmonary bypass strategies. From local experience, the author provide advice on how to reduce the learning curves, such as practising with the specialised instruments and visualization techniques during sternotomy cases. Underpinning the NHS pillars are the principles of systems awareness, teamwork, communication, ownership and leadership, all of which are paramount to performing any surgery but more so with minimal access surgery, as will be highlighted throughout this paper.