When a patient is diagnosed with coronary artery disease, a surgeon can perform an operation to restore healthy blood flow to the heart. In this procedure, one or more healthy blood vessels will be taken from the arm, leg or chest and are used to create “new” vessels for the heart. The surgeon will connect or graft one end of the harvested vessel to the aorta that supplies the blood to the heart; the other end will be attached at the surface of the heart, bypassing the blocked portion of the coronary artery. It is not uncommon for a surgeon to perform three or four of these grafts during one operation.
Today many people that have medical conditions such as diabetes, history of stroke, or poor physical health can undergo cardiac surgery with a clampless approach which may lower their risk for developing complications. In contrast to conventional bypass surgery, which stops the heart and puts the patient on a heart-lung machine during the grafting procedure, clampless beating heart bypass surgery uses local stabilization of the heart that allows the surgeon to sew the bypass graft while the heart still beats.
The potential benefits of beating heart surgery may include1:
- Less trauma to the body, since the heart-lung machine is not used
- Fewer cognitive and neurological effects (for example, a stroke)
- Less risk of problems with memory
- Faster recovery rates
- Shorter hospital stays
- Fewer blood transfusions needed
1 Puskas J, Cheng D, Knight J, et al. Off-pump versus conventional coronary artery bypass grafting. A meta-analysis and consensus statement from the 2004 ISMICS Consensus Conference. Innovations. 2005; 1:3-27