Beating Heart Bypass Surgery

Recent advances in surgery and medical devices allow doctors to have less invasive options in the treatment of coronary artery disease (CAD), such as Beating Heart or “Off-Pump” Bypass Surgery.  Now individuals who have medical conditions such as diabetes, history of stroke, or poor physical health, can undergo cardiac surgery with lower risk for developing complications.  You will want to talk with your doctor to see if Beating Heart Bypass Surgery is an option for you.

Beating Heart vs. Traditional Bypass Surgery

Beating Heart Bypass Surgery is different from traditional bypass surgery because it is performed while your heart is still beating.  Your surgeon does not use the heart-lung machine to stop your heart during the procedure.  In some cases, the surgeon may still need to use the heart-lung machine during the operation.  A perfusionist (a specialist trained to operate the heart-lung machine) may remain on standby during your operation.

With this approach, surgeons can perform multiple bypass grafts on all areas of the heart, including the backside (posterior), at the same time.  What this means is, the surgeon can perform a triple (three bypass grafts), quadruple (four bypass grafts) or more through a middle of the chest incision all off-pump.

Clinical Benefits of Beating Heart Bypass Surgery

Your physician may choose the beating heart bypass procedure for you because of benefits such as:

  • Decreased length of hospital stay
  • less trauma due to the elimination of the heart-lung machine
  • Reduction in need for blood transfusions
  • Fewer cognitive and neurological consequences such as stroke

In addition, a recent study presented in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that patients who are treated with traditional bypass surgery may suffer from lapses in mental acuity that result from brain damage caused by the stopped heart bypass surgery.

Out of 261 patients whose mental acuity diminished after bypass surgery:

  • 53% had diminished mental acuity at discharge
  • 36% had diminished mental acuity after 6 weeks
  • 24% had diminished mental acuity after 6 months
  • 42% had diminished mental acuity after 5 years7

Potential benefits of Beating Heart Bypass vs. Traditional Bypass surgery?

When compared to traditional coronary artery bypass procedures that stop the patient’s heart and utilize a heart-lung machine, beating heart bypass procedures reduced:

  • Transfusion rates by 48%
  • Length of post-operative hospital stay by 40%
  • Hospital costs by 24%
  • Post-operative cognitive dysfunction by 36% at 5 days and 90% at 3 months