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Saint Thomas Heart

Off Pump Surgery

Off-pump coronary artery bypass, also called "beating heart" surgery, is a form of coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery performed without cardiopulmonary bypass. During most bypass surgeries, the heart is stopped and a heart-lung machine takes over the work of the heart and lungs. When a cardiac surgeon performs the CABG procedure off-pump, also known as OPCAB (Off-pump Coronary Artery Bypass), the heart is still beating while graft attachments are made to bypass a blockage.

Off-pump coronary artery bypass was developed in part to avoid the complications of cardiopulmonary bypass during cardiac surgery. At times, with cardiopulmonary bypass, fatty type materials collect to form a blockage or lining on the walls of the artery and may break loose during CABG procedure manipulation, resulting in clots, or “emboli.” These clots may interrupt the flow of blood to the brain and cause neurological damage or even stroke. Data analysis from “beating heart” surgery patients shows a significant reduction in the release of this debris with correspondingly lower stroke rates.

In addition to off-pump surgery being associated with the clinical benefits of a reduced risk of stroke or memory problems, patients also typically have a faster recovery and shorter hospital stay, fewer blood transfusions and fewer unwanted inflammatory/immune response issues.