Many benefits to new bypass procedure

Saturday, September 15, 2001

The past several years have seen some astounding developments in cardiothoracic and vascular surgery. New technology in the operating room is reducing complications and risks, with a faster return to work and an active life.

Off-Pump Coronary Artery Bypass (OPCAB), also known as Beating-Heart Bypass, is one such surgery that has helped thousands of open-heart patients in the nation. With Beating-Heart Bypass, the goal is the same as with coronary artery bypass surgery -- to replace blocked or narrowed arteries around the heart.

"One of the greatest risks during open-heart surgery is the use of the heart-lung machine," said Edward M. Bender, M.D., a cardiothoracic surgeon at Saint Francis Medical Center's Heart Institute. "When the heart is stopped and blood is artificially pumped through the body, the patient faces increased risk of infection, kidney failure, stroke and cognitive abnormalities."

Beating-Heart Bypass is performed without the heart-lung machine. The surgeon uses a stabilizing device to help hold part of the heart steady while the new artery is attached.

In addition to reducing risks and complications, Beating-Heart Bypass also means a quicker recovery for patients. "In most cases, the patient is able to sit up and start dangling his feet from the bed just hours after surgery," said Dr. Bender. Most patients can be discharged from the hospital in just three to four days, and can resume regular activities, including work, within six weeks.

Beating-Heart Bypass is one of many new surgical techniques used by the cardiothoracic and vascular surgeons at the Heart Institute to improve patient outcomes. Saint Francis Medical Center recently issued a report, "A Demonstration of Outcomes," showing open-heart surgery patients at the Heart Institute have better outcomes than most other patients in the nation.

Outcome data from the Heart Institute was compared with data from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS), which tracks patient outcomes at hospitals across the country. The report shows that Heart Institute patients spend less time in the hospital -- usually four days -- than the national benchmark of five days. Mortality rates are also significantly lower at Saint Francis.

For a copy of "A Demonstration of Outcomes" or for more information on the Saint Francis Medical Center Heart Institute call 1-573-331-5877.

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