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Amy Umble is health reporter for The Free Lance-Star

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Mary Washington will offer heart surgeries done through small incisions

Dr. Alex Na was one of the featured speakers last night at Mary Washington Hospital's annual community report.

Mary Washington Hospital will soon add minimally invasive heart surgery to the procedures it does.

Dr. Alex Na, medical director for cardiovascular surgery, made the announcement last night at the hospital’s annual report to the community.

Na said that the heart surgery team will do aortic valve replacements through three-inch incisions. Mitral valve surgery also will be done through small incisions on the side of the chest, he said.

Until now most heart surgeries, including valve replacements, have been done through larger incisions in the middle of the chest, Na said. The minimally invasive alternative should be available within three months, he said.

Mary Washington’s heart surgery program was founded in 1994. The program did 281 open-heart surgeries in 2010, including 197 bypass-graft surgeries, according to Virginia Health Information, a nonprofit that collects state health data. Na arrived from Baltimore in December to lead the program.

Update: In response to reader Theron Keller’s question, a Mary Washington spokeswoman said that Na will be using hand-held laparoscopic tools when doing minimally invasive surgery.