Emory Cardiologist Performs Minimally Invasive Bypass Surgery: Groundbreaking
Advance in Surgical Treatment Of Heart Disease Now Available at Emory
ATLANTA Performing coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG) without opening
up the chest cavity might sound like a description of a cardiology procedure
of the future - but at Emory, this groundbreaking advance in the surgical
treatment of heart disease is now a reality.
Cardiothoracic surgeon Thomas Vassiliades, MD, one of the nation's pioneers
in minimally invasive heart surgery, has joined the Emory Heart Center.
Dr. Vassiliades is nationally known for developing robotics assisted
endoscopic techniques which allow coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG)
to be performed using small incisions between the ribs rather than an
open-chest approach with a large incision through the sternum. The advantages
to this approach, called Endoscopic Atraumatic Coronary Artery Bypass
(Endo-ACAB), are numerous, according to Dr. Vassiliades.
"The heart/lung machine is usually the culprit in morbidity resulting
from CABG. But Endo-ACAB is performed off-pump," he notes. "Also, the
incision through the sternum tends to hurt patients - and worry them
- the most. The endoscopic approach means there is no chest incision
and no problem with a large incision not healing correctly," he says.
Dr. Vassiliades adds that most patients are able to leave the hospital
within 48 hours and return to full activity, including work, in two
to three weeks, rather than the two to three months needed for recovery
after traditional CABG surgery.
"I have performed over 500 Endo-ACAB procedures, and the results for
my patients have been extremely positive," Dr. Vassiliades says. One
recent patient, attorney Harold Goldberg, traveled from his home in
Syracuse, New York, to Emory especially for the procedure.
"I had a blocked coronary artery that could not be repaired by angioplasty.
I did not want the traditional bypass surgery and medication had not
provided the long-term result I needed so my cardiologist recommended
that I come to Emory. Given the choice of having my sternum broken and
this, the choice was obvious to me," says Mr. Goldberg, 54. Three days
after Dr. Vassiliades performed his Endo-ACAB procedure, Mr. Goldberg
was ready to return home and declared he "felt great".
More than 1.3 million patients each year in the United States receive
coronary artery revascularization treatment, including CABG and angioplasty
(which uses a balloon-tipped catheter to push aside blockages in heart
arteries). Dr. Vassiliades believes the minimally invasive approach
can help many of these people who are candidates for bypasses, or who
need a combination of bypasses and angioplasty.
"A new hybrid treatment option combines the best of surgical and catheter-based
therapy to treat patients in a minimally invasive manner. During a hybrid
procedure, I perform the closed chest bypass and then an interventional
cardiologist inserts the stents," says Dr. Vassiliades. "By combining
Endo-ACAB with angioplasty and stents, we want to be able to take care
of all blockages a patient has, keep the chest intact, and avoid the
expense and risks of the heart/lung machine - all with one procedure."
Currently, Emory is the only medical center in Georgia where the Endo-ACAB
procedure and the "hybrid" approach are performed. Nationally, fewer
than ten U.S. institutions use these techniques, according to Dr. Vassiliades.
"We are very pleased that Dr. Vassiliades, who is nationally known for
his clinical expertise and research in the field of minimally invasive
bypass surgery, has joined us at the Emory Heart Center," states Douglas
Morris, MD, Director of the Emory Heart Center. "Emory has a long history
of innovation and exceptional clinical competence in the field of cardiovascular
surgery and Dr. Vassiliades' work is another example of our commitment
to provide the best cardiac care available for our patients."
NOTE TO MEDIA: Interviews can be arranged with Atlanta-based patients
who have undergone minimally invasive CABG surgery at Emory.