Minimally Invasive Surgery Greatly Reduces Heart Bypass Deaths And Complications

November 12, 1997

PITTSBURGH, Nov. 12 -- A study by physicians at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) has found that minimally invasive heart bypass surgery greatly reduces the number of deaths and complications in very high-risk cardiac patients who are too ill to undergo traditional bypass.

The findings will be presented Nov. 12 at the annual scientific meeting of the American Heart Association in Orlando, Fla.

"We found that the length of hospital stay was greatly reduced and that no patients died or suffered strokes because of the minimally invasive surgery," said Marco Zenati, M.D., assistant professor of surgery in the division of cardiothoracic surgery and director of the minimally invasive coronary bypass program. "Additionally, no patient required re-operation and 71 percent of the patients had their breathing tubes removed before leaving the operating room."

In minimally invasive surgery, surgeons operate on the heart through a single, three-inch incision, making the stressful procedure of cutting through the breastbone unnecessary. They also operate on the blocked artery while the heart continues to beat, unlike standard bypass in which the patient is put on the heart-lung bypass machine, and the heart is stopped.

The study involved 17 very high-risk patients with severe coronary artery disease, 12 of whom were not considered candidates for traditional bypass surgery. Mean age was 73 years. Sixty-six percent of the patients had kidney failure, 70 percent had previous heart surgery, and six patients underwent angioplasty following the minimally invasive bypass surgery, a procedure called integrated coronary revascularization.

Because of their high risk, it was predicted that if the patients were to undergo conventional bypass surgery, their average length of hospital stay would be 16 days, their mortality rate would be 32 percent and their stroke rate would be 21 percent.

"In actuality, the length of stay for patients who underwent minimally invasive surgery was only 3.9 days. There was no mortality and no strokes after five months," Dr. Zenati said.

"We have previously shown that minimally invasive surgery is more cost-effective than traditional bypass surgery, and this study provides evidence that it is medically beneficial to the patients," he concluded.

For additional information about the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, please access

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University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

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