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Local Surgeon and Heart Team at Baton Rouge General Perform Region's First Robotic Heart Surgery

Baton Rouge, La. – Local heart surgeon Dr. Azeem Khan with cardiologist Dr. Brian Swirsky and the heart care team at Baton Rouge General Medical Center performed South Louisiana’s first minimally-invasive hybrid coronary revascularization surgery using state-of-the-art robotic technology last week.

The heart bypass procedure is a surgical treatment for coronary artery disease (CAD), the most common type of heart disease, which can lead to heart attack. Using a hybrid approach that includes surgical and cardiology teams, the surgery involves grafting a new blood vessel into place that bypasses the blocked artery to restore blood flow to the heart. During the procedure, the surgeon operates the robot’s arms from a console using 3D cameras that allow the surgeon to maneuver tiny robotic fingers in tight spaces with extreme precision.

For patients, the advantages of robotic surgery are significant. During conventional bypass surgery, the heart is reached by opening the chest and dividing the breast bone. In the robotic surgery, several small incisions between the ribs allow the surgeon to access to the heart through the internal mammary artery.

“As a surgeon, the sophisticated robotic capabilities allow us even greater control and the 3D cameras provide precise visualization – all of which help to achieve improved outcomes and quality for patients,” noted Dr. Khan. “This less invasive hybrid approach dramatically changes the impact of having major heart surgery – shortening patients’ hospital stay from 5 days to 3, and reducing full post-op recovery time to 2-3 weeks compared to traditional bypass surgery, which can take up to 3 months.”

“Ultimately, the greatest value of this minimally-invasive technology is that it offers positive benefits for our patients,” said Dr. Swirsky. “They recover more quickly and have less pain and virtually no scarring, as well as a reduced risk for complications.”

In patients with CAD, one or more of the coronary arteries have become narrowed by plaque build-up – reducing blood supply to the heart and weakening the heart muscle over time. About half of Americans (49%) have at least one of the three key risk factors for heart disease, which includes high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, and smoking, and every year about 720,000 Americans have a heart attack *

Dr. Azeem Khan (center) with heart team at Baton Rouge General.

Dr. Azeem Khan (left) with Dr. Brian Swirsky (right).

*Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Million Hearts: strategies to reduce the prevalence of leading cardiovascular disease risk factors, United States, 2011.

About Baton Rouge General Medical Center

Baton Rouge General Medical Center is a full-service community hospital, with 527 licensed beds between two campuses. As the first hospital in Baton Rouge, opening its doors in 1900, Baton Rouge General has a long history of groundbreaking milestones, as well as providing the Greater Baton Rouge community with high quality healthcare for generations. From our birth center to senior services, and state-of-the-art heart and cancer care, Baton Rouge General provides care for the whole family at every age and every stage of life.

Baton Rouge General is affiliated with and also serves as a satellite campus of Tulane University School of Medicine. In addition to serving as a satellite campus for Tulane medical students in the LEAD (Leadership, Education, Advocacy and Discovery) Academy program, Baton Rouge General also offers a Family Medicine Residency Program, Internal Medicine Residency Program, Sports Medicine Fellowship Program, School of Nursing and School of Radiologic Technology. Baton Rouge General, an accredited teaching hospital since 1991, is committed to exceptional medical education and serves a diverse population that is representative of the types of patients, injuries, illnesses and healthcare needs most frequently seen by physicians in private practice. For more information, visit BRGeneral.org, find us on Facebook at Facebook.com/BatonRougeGeneral and follow us on Twitter at @BRGeneral.

About Baton Rouge General’s Heart and Vascular Tower

Baton Rouge General and its heart and vascular tower incorporates comprehensive cardiac and vascular services and specialists and provides care for people throughout our nine-parish metropolitan community. In 2007, Baton Rouge General dedicated its cardiology program to the late Milton J. Womack, Sr., a community leader, philanthropist and founder of Milton J. Womack, Inc. commercial contracting company. Womack suffered from heart disease, and in honor of her husband, Margaret Womack vowed to be an active part in ensuring that the Baton Rouge community have access to the highest caliber of heart care services. Baton Rouge General’s Womack Heart Center and its new heart and vascular tower offers comprehensive specialists, programs and services, and state-of-the-art technology and treatments all under one roof:

  • Full spectrum of multidisciplinary diabetes, lipid, cardiac, vascular and cardio thoracic experts and specialists
  • State-of-the-art Diagnostic Imaging Technology
    • Cardiovascular Ultrasound
    • Vascular Ultrasound
    • Stress Testing and Nuclear Medicine
  • Advanced Heart Catheterization Labs
  • Dedicated Heart Operating Rooms
  • Expanded Surgical Space including Hybrid Operating Suite for Minimally Invasive Interventions
  • 24 Hour Emergency Room with Specialized Training for Senior Care
  • Comprehensive Stroke Services
  • Fully Monitored Intensive Care and Telemetry Units
  • Cardiovascular Recovery Area
  • Inpatient & Outpatient Cardiac Rehabilitation Programs
  • Limbs for Life Program
  • Screenings and Early Detection
  • Baton Rouge General Fit! Wellness Pilot
  • Prevention Programs, including Smoking Cessation Courses

For more information, visit here.

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