Strong Memorial Doctors Keep Hearts Beating During Bypass Surgery

March 30, 2000

Surgeons at Strong Memorial Hospital are now performing delicate heart bypass procedures using a device that allows the patient's heart to beat during surgery, avoiding the need for a heart-lung machine.

Called the Octopus2, the device stabilizes the heart during surgery, but permits the organ to beat naturally. As a result, patients experience fewer complications and a better and quicker recovery compared to conventional bypass surgery, says George L. Hicks, M.D., chief of cardiothoracic surgery at Strong Memorial Hospital of the University of Rochester Medical Center.

During traditional bypass surgery, the heart is stopped and the patient's blood is directed through a heart-lung machine, also called a cardiopulmonary bypass system, which oxygenates the blood as the heart and lungs would naturally. This technique allows the surgeon to perform bypass procedures on the quiet heart with precision.

By utilizing the Octopus2, surgeons eliminate the need for the heart-lung machine, which in some cases can cause reactions to medications, bleeding complications, stroke, and systemic inflammation that affects the lungs, kidneys and other organs.

The device resembles an octopus arm with two sets of small suction pods that gently connect to the surface of the heart. With it, surgeons can now lift and stabilize the area in which the surgeon will operate, while still allowing the heart to function normally.

Recovery time after the procedure - referred to as off-pump or beating-heart surgery because a heart-lung machine is unnecessary - is usually shortened compared with traditional bypass surgery. In addition, patients require fewer blood transfusions, awaken earlier and have a decreased need for ventilation after surgery.

Beating-heart surgery is not suitable for every patient in need of heart bypass. Appropriate cases are dependent upon the size and location of the vessels to be grafted and the patient's medical history, among other factors. Surgeons at Strong Memorial Hospital have performed a number of cases, all with excellent outcomes. For more information about the procedure, contact Hicks or William Risher, M.D., at (716) 275-5384.

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