SAINT JOHN, NB, June 11 /CNW/ - Cardiac surgeons at the New Brunswick
Heart Centre in the Saint John Regional Hospital adopt a new,
minimally-invasive procedure to treat coronary artery disease.
"We're extremely excited about the success we've had with the procedure
and the benefits it offers our patients," said Dr. Pelletier, Clinical
Department Head, Cardiac Surgery, New Brunswick Heart Centre. "It's been used
in heart centres across the United States and within other provinces in Canada
and has proven to have benefits that are well beyond those of the traditional
The new endoscopic vessel harvesting (EVH) procedure being used by
surgeons at the New Brunswick Heart Centre offers patients an alternative,
minimally-invasive approach to bypass grafting. The procedure allows
physicians to harvest the vein through a small, two-centimeter incision in the
leg, close to the knee, rather than the traditional 15-30 cm incision that has
usually been required to remove the vein.
Using a long scope attached to a video camera, surgeons are able to see
under the skin and to make a tunnel surrounding the vein. Carbon dioxide is
then injected into this tunnel to create room to remove the vein and to cut
its branches. The techniques used in the procedure have been designed to
minimize stress to the leg and are known to significantly reduce the severity
of post-operative complications and infections and discomfort for the patient.
According to Dr. Pelletier, "Patients who've undergone EVH experience
less pain and a quicker recovery, allowing them to concentrate their efforts
on rehabilitation. With minimal scarring, they also notice a much better
The New Brunswick Heart Centre has been performing the new procedure
since early May and has already completed nearly 20 endoscopic harvest cases.
As surgeons at the centre become more proficient at the procedure, they
anticipate the majority of coronary artery bypass surgeries will be done using
"We expect that once all the necessary physicians on the cardiac team are
trained, it will be available for almost any patient who requires a vein for
coronary bypass surgery," says Dr. Pelletier. "Until then, we will try to
perform it for patients who need it the most, such as those who have diabetes
or are obese and have poor mobility."
Last year, the New Brunswick Heart Centre performed over 730 open heart
surgeries, of which 490 were coronary artery bypass surgeries. They expect
that number will increase to approximately 550 this year.
"We're very happy with the advancements we've made to our surgical
technology and procedures at the NB Heart Centre," comments Dr. Hendriks, Vice
President of Medical Affairs for Regional Health Authority B. "By making such
improvements, we're able to further enhance the quality of health care
patients receive in the province of New Brunswick."
Coronary artery disease is treated through a surgical procedure known as
bypass grafting. The surgery reroutes blood around blocked arteries to improve
blood flow and oxygen to the heart. The procedure involves taking, or
harvesting, a vein or artery from another part of the body, typically the leg,
and sewing or grafting the vessel to the coronary artery to bypass the clogged
artery and restore blood flow.
Bypass grafting has traditionally been performed using an invasive
procedure known as open vessel harvesting. The procedure requires physicians
to make a long incision down the length of the patient's leg, usually from the
groin to the ankle, to harvest the greater saphenous vein. In addition to a
long, visible scar, some patients who undergo this procedure experience more
post-operative pain from the leg incision than from the chest incision.
Rehabilitation may also be delayed because the incision often makes it more
difficult for the patient to stand or walk.
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