New Tool Makes Heart-Bypass Safer in the Heartland

More and more people are being told they need to have open bypass surgery, but thanks to a new medical tool just approved by the FDA the process is now safer and easier for patients. The new device is called the aortic connector. It's less invasive than other techniques used in the past, and that's just the beginning of all it has to offer.

Before the operation started at Southeast Hospital Tuesday morning, the patient in the operating room had three blockages in the vessels that feed blood to his heart. When it was over, he had an aortic connector in his heart. An aortic connector is a mechanical device that's smaller than a dime, that allows surgeons, like Dr. Randy Brown, to do bypass surgery without using stitches. Dr. Brown says, "Before, since I do most of my surgeries on the beating heart, you had to put a clamp in the aorta and actually make holes in the heart, and sew, hand sew one end of the bypass graft. Now, with this new device, I don't have to put a clamp in the aorta. Using the aortic connector, instead of the clamps, vessels are able to connect more quickly.

By not using the clamps, it cuts down the risks of complications during surgery, the biggest risk, a stroke. "There is a small, yet significant chance that you'll have a stroke during open heart surgery, and this decreases it to almost zero, Dr. Brown says. It also cuts down the time a patient is in the operating room by half. This new technique is more expensive, but Dr. Brown says a patient has to weigh the options. "If you consider the decreased operating time as well as the decreased chance of having a stroke and those problems and hospital cost, it's even."

Again, this is more expensive than the traditional surgery and so far less than ten people have had this surgery done in Cape Girardeau. Dr. Brown says it just depends on the patient's case and their condition to determine who should get the device.