BR medical team performs first robotic bypass surgery

EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH, LA (WAFB) - The specially-trained team at Baton Rouge General Medical Center is the first in South Louisiana to perform a minimally-invasive hybrid heart surgery that combines drug-coated stints and robotic heart bypass procedures.

The result is a surgery that can offer longer lasting results for patients with less recovery time and pain.

The surgery was performed last week on a patient suffering from coronary artery disease which means one or more of the patient's arteries were narrowed or blocked due to plaque buildup.  Restoring proper blood flow usually involves stints, which push the blockage aside, or bypass surgery in which surgeons graft in an artery so blood can flow around the blockage.

Traditional bypass surgery would require doctors to split the breast bone in order to reach the heart.  For the patient, that means up to a week in the hospital and months of recovery.

However, in this new approach recovery is cut from three months to 3 weeks.

"It is exciting. It's always good to be on the cutting edge and pushing forward," said cardiologist Dr. Brian Swirsky.

During the procedure, the surgeon used a Da Vinci surgical robot to perform the bypass through the ribcage. The robot's fine-tuned movements are controlled by the surgeon who can see everything through a 3D camera.

"You don't have to split the breast bone, you just go in between the ribs and you don't even have to spread the ribs," explained cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Azeem Khan.

A cardiologist also uses drug coated stints to open up any other blocked arteries that cannot be reached by the surgical robot.  All of it is done through just 4 small incisions.

"We use the combination of the two to get a better outcome," said Swirsky.

Doctors also believe using the combination of stints and robotic bypass surgery will give patients a longer lasting result.

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