Medical Moment: A new approach to coronary bypass surgery

Published: Feb. 17, 2023 at 5:55 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

(WNDU) - Coronary bypass surgery is the most common heart surgery in the United States, with over 200,000 procedures performed every year.

The surgery itself improved blood flow to the heart by bypassing arteries clogged with plaque.

Now, surgeons are performing this procedure in a specialized way, and for many patients, that means the heart keeps beating during the entire procedure.

For New York artist Yvelisse Boucher, putting brush to paper last year was cathartic and very personal. Boucher began painting safari-themed pictures after hearing wonderful news from her son and his fiancee.

“They were expecting a baby,” Boucher recalled.

It also compelled the 61 year old to make a life-altering decision.

“I have some work to do,” Boucher said. “I gotta be able to run around and chase this little guy.”

Boucher was facing some serious health issues, she had type two diabetes, a previously undetected stroke left her weak on one side, she had heart disease, and learned she needed a triple bypass.

“I was terrified,” Boucher said. “I was truly, truly terrified.”

Cardiac expert John Puskas recommended a highly-specialized surgery using arteries instead of veins and unlike other bypass procedures, surgeons didn’t stop the heart.

“So, the no-aortic touch all arterial bypass operation does not use the heart-lung machine at all,” said Dr. John Puskas, MD, a cardiovascular surgeon at Mount Sinai Morningside. “Instead of attaching arteries of veins to the aorta, we actually leave them with their own normal.”

Dr. Puskas removed an artery from Boucher’s wrist to perform the bypass. Surgeons also surgically repositioned two internal arteries to improve blood flow. Dr. Puskas says the arterial graft and off-pump surgery leads to shorter recovery, and better outcomes.

Boucher says she kept thinking about meeting her grandson, which kept her going during recovery.

Finally, the moment Boucher had been waiting for arrived.

“I did a little peek-a-boo thing with him and he gave me my first smile and my heart just burst,” Boucher joked.

Just a figure of speech, Boucher is recovering well, spending time with little Ezra, and feeling better than ever.

Studies show there is a 2% stroke risk during traditional bypass surgery. With the arterial graft no-touch technique, surgeons reduce the stroke risk to one-quarter of 1%.