With “traditional” bypass surgery, surgeons use the assistance of the heart-lung machine along with medications to stop the heart so the bypass can be performed. The heart-lung machine continues to provide blood flow the body needs to function while the surgeon repairs the heart. The heart-lung machine is referred to as a “pump” because it continues to mechanically pump oxygen and nutrients to the body.
What is Beating Heart Bypass Surgery?
Beating heart bypass surgery is different from traditional bypass surgery because it is performed while your heart continues to beat.
During the procedure, your surgeon will not stop your heart or use the heart-lung machine. In other words, your surgery will be performed “off-pump.” Your surgeon will use instruments to stabilize a localized area of the heart where a bypass is being performed. This occurs while your heart continues to beat, allowing natural blood flow.
In some cases, the surgeon may need to use the heart-lung machine. In that event, a perfusionist (a specialist trained to operate the heart-lung machine) is on standby during the procedure.
Your physician may have chosen the beating heart bypass procedure for you because this technique allows for quicker recovery and shortens your hospital stay.