November 5, 2009

Traditional Bypass More Efficient Than Off-Pump Method

Researchers have reported that the traditional form of heart bypass surgery is safer and more effective than the newer way, which allows the heart to continue beating during surgery.

With an estimated 253,000 Americans undergoing the procedure each year, bypass surgery is believed to be the most common medical surgery in the world.

Doctors typically perform the surgery using a heart-lung pump that works to circulate blood through the patient's body while the heart is stopped for surgery.

However, the heart-lung pump poses a few risks of stroke and other health complications.

In an attempt to escape those risks, some doctors began performing bypass surgeries off-pump, using a machine to stabilize the heart.

A recent study from doctors at 18 Veterans Affairs medical centers found that the risk of heart attack, death or additional surgery was increased in patients who underwent off-pump procedures.

Doctors studied 2,203 patients to show that heart-related deaths occurred in 2.7 percent of off-pump patients, compared with 1.3 percent of those who underwent procedures involving heart-lung pumps.

"For the vast majority, there's no advantage to doing it off-pump and there may be some disadvantages," said Dr. Frederick Grover of the University of Colorado Denver, who helped author the study.

"I would find myself hard pressed to justify it for someone who is at moderate or somewhat-high risk. I don't think the trade-off is worth it myself," he said.

"This study actually showed that there weren't any neurological improvements in off-pump versus on-pump surgery. The length of stay was basically the same and there was no difference in how the other organs functioned as well," Grover told Reuters.


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