Mercy's open heart program introduces safer option for higher-risk patients

Contributed photo of Vincent Risden.
Contributed photo of Vincent Risden.


Vincent Risden, 85, of North Liberty, recently underwent off-pump heart bypass surgery at Mercy Medical Center-Cedar Rapids.  Risden says he’s thankful off-pump surgery is available at Mercy because other health issues, including recurring pneumonia, left him unable to undergo traditional open heart surgery to repair his heart blockage.


According to Mercy, over the past three years, they are the only hospital in CR currently performing the less invasive off-pump coronary artery bypass surgery, also called "beating heart" surgery.  Off-pump surgery does not use a heart-lung machine to stop the heart as in traditional coronary artery bypass surgery.

Rather than stopping the heart, technological advances and new types of operating equipment allow the surgeon to stabilize portions of the heart during surgery. With a particular area of the heart stabilized, the surgeon can safely bypass the blocked artery in a highly controlled operative environment. Meanwhile, the rest of the heart keeps beating and circulating blood to the body.

“This type of surgery may be the best option for sicker patients or ones with other health issues,” said Dr. C.C. Lee, director of Mercy’s cardiothoracic and vascular surgery program.

Following his off-pump surgery, Risden is now looking forward to actively enjoying his retirement years.

“It’s always our desire to offer our patients the latest advances in technology and, of course, to have successful outcomes,” said Dr. Lee. Providing the off-pump bypass procedure here at Mercy is a differentiator for us and another way we can offer patients the very best surgical heart care.”

Off-pump coronary artery bypass surgery is performed in certain patients with coronary artery disease. Certain patients at increased risk for complications from cardiopulmonary bypass, such as those who have heavy amounts of calcification in the aorta or compromised lung or kidney function, may be ideal candidates. The technology allows patients who cannot have traditional bypass surgery to be evaluated for off-pump surgery.

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