ardiac surgeons at Winthrop-University Hospital have become the first on Long Island and only the second in New York State to utilize a groundbreaking technological innovation that enables them to execute the most difficult, time-consuming and critical part of coronary artery bypass surgery without using hand-sewn sutures.
William C. Scott, MD, Chairman of Winthrop's Department of Thoracic & Cardiovascular Surgery, recently employed a new FDA-approved device called the Symmetry Bypass Aortic Connector to attach a healthy vein graft to a diseased aorta. The sutureless mechanical procedure, which rerouted blood around blockages in the major artery that feeds the heart, took seconds - compared to the five-to-ten minutes it usually takes to complete similar attachments with stitches.
The Aortic Connector, produced by St. Jude Medical, Inc., is a star-shaped rivet constructed of Nitinol, a unique material long used successfully in cardiovascular applications. Experts in the field are hailing this revolutionary technology and technique as the beginning of a new era in heart surgery, which could ultimately enable surgeons to perform bypass surgery less invasively and with fewer risks.
"The grafts take less time to complete, making the entire experience more patient friendly, explained Dr. Scott. "It also eliminates the need to put a clamp on the aorta, which can reduce the risk of neurological side effects that are often linked to cardiac surgery." (In conventional bypass operations, when the aorta is clamped off to keep blood from backing up into the heart, some of the plaque in the vessel can be dislodged. When the clamp is re-leased, this debris can be picked up in the blood stream and carried to the brain, where it can cause brain damage, including stroke.)
Dr. Scott also reported that the device makes the graft opening uniform, eliminating the irregularity of hand-sewn grafts and allowing for more consistent surgical results, which may enhance recovery time.
The new technique uses a delivery system involving a long, slim tube that carries the replacement vessel. One end of the tube has a cutting mechanism that makes a smooth-edged round hole in the aorta.
After cutting the hole, the tube is inserted into the aorta, placing a portion of the vein on the inside of the artery. The surgeon then pushes a button at the other end of the tube, deploying a tiny web of wires that unfolds and forms the Aortic Connector that joins the two vessels. The opening between the two channels is immediate, and when the tube is withdrawn, it leaves a strong link between the vessels with no bleeding at the juncture.
"This is only the first of a whole raft of devices that will make it possible to perform cardiac surgery less and less invasively, and make the operation safer and more effective," Dr. Scott said. "Winthrop will continue to be at the cutting-edge of these new developments."
For more information about new innovations in Winthrop's Institute for Heart Care, call 1-800-443-2788.