Posted: Wednesday, May 04, 2005 12:00 am

Kankakee (May 4, 2005) - Cardiovascular surgeons, Drs. Mark Lubienski, and Philip Alexander, performed pioneering heart surgery at Riverside Medical Center using the DaVinci robotic-assist system to perform heart bypass surgery. It was one of the first robotic-assisted heart surgery performed in Illinois.

Robotic technology enabled the surgeons to perform the cardiac bypass surgery through smaller incisions and without stopping the heart and placing the patient on the heart-lung machine. The recovery from this new procedure is only three to four weeks compared to the six to eight weeks that occurs with traditional open-heart surgery.

"It's so nice to be able to offer patients this option," says Dr. Lubienski, Medical Director, "At this point, the number of eligible patients is small because we can only use the new robotic-assist procedure for a single bypass. But the FDA is expected to approve the technology very soon to use robotic assistance for a multiple vessel bypass."

Using the robotic-assist equipment, Drs. Lubienski and Alexander were able to reroute a bypass graft around the clogged artery. The usual hospital stay after robotic-assisted bypass surgery is only four days. Dr. Alexander explained, "The overall recovery is just much easier for patients. This is an exciting time for cardiovascular surgery."

Asked how he felt about making history at age 76, patient Albert Shelley says, "I knew I was in good hands. I felt pretty good soon afterward except for some swelling in my chest. But I'm walking the treadmill and riding the bicycle at a good clip in rehab."

According to Albert, this was his first big medical event. "My heart condition surprised me. I felt my chest tighten a few times and thought nothing of it. But when I mentioned it to my daughter, she got me in to see my doctor. The angiogram showed one artery was blocked in two different spots, one 70%, the other 90%. I needed surgery. Glad I listened to her."

In the near future, Drs. Lubienski and Alexander expect to use the DaVinci robotic-assist to perform many other cardiovascular procedures at Riverside: repair and replace mitral valves; repair holes between the two upper heart chambers; treat atrial fibrillation (a problem that affects a large population); and heart failure surgery.

"The trend in surgery is toward more minimally-invasive procedures performed through smaller incisions, getting patients back to their daily activities as soon as possible," Dr. Lubienski says. "Patients always want to return home as soon as possible and get back to work or other activities. Riverside's robotic technology is making those advances in patient care possible at a dramatically rapid pace."

Riverside HealthCare is a Member of the Rush System for Health.


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Judy Pretto
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815-935-7544 Ext. 6764

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