at Columbia University Medical Center, Department of Surgery:
"Traditionally, open heart surgeons have reached the heart through a sternotomy, a full incision of the breastbone that averages 9-10 inches in length. While this approach offers complete access to the heart, it extends the post-operative recovery period since the patient's breastbone must heal. In minimally invasive surgery, surgeons reach the heart through smaller incisions, or "windows," that provide access to only the section of the heart being operated upon. The goal of all minimally invasive procedures is to lessen postoperative pain, minimize scarring, and reduce recovery times versus traditional open procedures.
A variety of surgical approaches are available within minimally invasive surgery. A minithoracotomy is an approximately 2-inch incision made between the ribs, eliminating the need for bones to heal postoperatively. A hemisternotomy is a modification of a sternotomy, employing a smaller, 4-5 inch incision of the breastbone. Robotic cardiac surgery is another specific type of minimal access surgery. Surgeons make three very small (1/2 inch) incisions, placing flexible surgical instruments through two incisions, and a camera through the third. The surgeon then controls the instruments at a separate console."
=> read more and see MIS post-op photos.
Columbia University Medical Center, NY, USA.