About Beating-Heart Surgery
Our surgeons perform beating-heart surgeries because heart function is better preserved if it is not stopped during an operation. This is especially true with high-risk cases.
(The procedure described on this page involves an open-chest approach. For information about minimally invasive beating-heart bypass surgery, read about totally endoscopic coronary artery bypass surgery, also known as TECAB.)
Frequently Asked Questions: Beating-Heart Coronary Artery Surgery
What is beating-heart coronary artery bypass surgery and how is it performed?
In an open-chest, beating-heart bypass procedure, surgeons make an incision through the breastbone to gain access to the heart. In many cases, surgeons do a partial sternotomy — which is a shorter incision through the breastbone than a full sternotomy. Unlike traditional bypass surgery, the heart is not stopped during a beating-heart bypass procedure. This approach uses special devices to stabilize the part of the heart the surgeon is operating on.
At UChicago Medicine, beating-heart bypass is typically performed without the use of a heart-lung bypass machine, though it may be performed with the support of the machine in select cases.
What are the benefits of beating-heart bypass surgery?
In comparison to traditional bypass surgery, the benefits of beating-heart bypass surgery include:
- Quicker recovery
- Reduced hospital stay
- Reduced risk of neurological injury, including stroke and damage to the memory function
- Better preservation of heart function
- Less chance for heart rhythm, kidney or liver complications
- Better survival rate, especially among high-risk patients
Who is a candidate for the beating-heart approach?
Most people who require coronary artery bypass graft surgery are candidates for the beating-heart approach. Surgeons weigh several factors, such as the location of blocked arteries, a patient's history of past thoracic surgeries and the presence of co-existing diseases. Patients with very poor heart function, cases that require re-operation involving the side of the heart, and hearts that are unable to tolerate manipulation, may not be appropriate for this approach.
Is beating-heart bypass surgery widely available?
More than 80 percent of coronary bypass surgeries performed at UChicago Medicine are done on a beating heart. No other hospital in the greater Chicago area performs such a high percentage of beating-heart bypass procedures. Although beating-heart bypass is not an option for all patients requiring bypass surgery, our experienced surgeons are frequently able to offer it safely to many patients refused by other hospitals.