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News and Featured Stories from St. Vincent's Medical Center
Published: 10/05/2012

First Robotic Bypass Surgery Performed in Area

St. Vincent’s by Cardiothoracic Surgeon Albert DiMeo, MDRobotic surgery has become a trusted method of performing prostate cancer surgery and hysterectomy among other procedures.

Now St. Vincent’s is once again on the cutting edge of health care with the introduction of this latest technology into its cardiac surgery program.

The first robotic coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) in Fairfield County was performed on a woman on May 22 at St. Vincent’s by Cardiothoracic Surgeon Albert DiMeo, MD.

Dr. DiMeo completed a single vessel small thoracotomy on Bridgeport resident Gloria Leon, 43, using Intuitive Surgical’s da Vinci® Robot SI system.

Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG) is a surgical procedure in which one or more blocked coronary arteries are bypassed by creating a blood vessel graft to restore normal blood flow to the heart through a new route. Surgeons create the grafts from the patient’s own arteries and veins taken from the chest, leg or arm.

Robotic Surgery Advantages

Robotic CABG performed -St. Vincent’s by Cardiothoracic Surgeon Albert DiMeo MDThe advantage of using the da Vinci® Robot is that the surgery can be performed minimally invasively without splitting the sternum or breast bone, as is necessary in standard CABG procedures. Also, Dr. DiMeo, the medical director of Minimally Invasive Cardiac Surgery at St. Vincent’s, made only three tiny incisions, two of which were less than one centimeter in size with the third being approximately five centimeters.

During traditional surgery, patients are on the heart/lung machine and often ventilated for more than six hours. “We were able to take Gloria off the ventilator right on the table in the OR when surgery was complete,” Dr. DiMeo said. Whereas with standard CABG, patients do not begin to walk for at least a day, Gloria was walking a few hours after her operation.

With the tiny incisions and no splitting of the sternum, there is minimal blood loss, less pain, less risk and recovery is much shorter. Gloria went home on May 24, two days post-surgery as compared to five days on average for standard CABG patients. According to Dr. DiMeo, patients can return to work and normal activities within two weeks, a much shorter interval than for open chest procedures. With the robotic surgery, patients have no lifting restrictions and can drive much sooner than with standard CABG.

When Bypass Surgery is Appropriate

Cardiologists will usually refer a patient for a CABG if angioplasty and stenting have been unsuccessful, resulting in a reocclusion or blocking of the artery. CABG has the advantage of using what is referred to as the internal mammary artery for creation of the bypass graft, which lasts longer than stenting. This entails open heart surgery for the patient with greater risk and longer recovery than angioplasty and stenting.

 With the advent of robotic CABG, surgeons can now offer patients the long-lasting benefit of traditional bypass surgery,  combined with an approach that doesn’t require a major operation and promises less pain and a shorter recovery.

Dr. Jared SelterAfter having her first stent inserted while living in Florida back in 2009, Gloria experienced pressure and discomfort again in her chest.

Now back in Bridgeport, the mother of three sons sought out Cardiologist Jared Selter, MD, (pictured right) who inserted stents on two occasions and finally a balloon, all which relieved the problems temporarily but did not prove a permanent solution as scar tissue kept developing within the stents.  

Dr. Selter then referred her to Dr. DiMeo for the CABG procedure.

One day after surgery, she had only minor discomfort and looked forward to an enhanced result. “It all went beautifully,” she said.

Looking to the Future

Currently, the procedure is indicated only for those patients with one blocked artery. According to Dr. DiMeo, this will most likely be expanded in the future to include patients who have multiple blockages.

Dr. DiMeo believes the robotic CABG procedure holds great hope for patients with blocked arteries. “This latest advance allows more patients who need stenting to reap the benefits of open heart surgery without its inherent risks.”

Learn more about Dr. DiMeo & Robotic Cardiothoracic Procedures or learn more at www.stvincents.org/cardiology  

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