HOUSTON (February 08, 2008)

On March 8, at 5:30 p.m. CST, during a live global Webcast from Memorial Hermann Heart & Vascular Institute in Houston, Texas, cardiovascular and thoracic surgeons Miguel Gomez, MD, and Donald Gibson, MD, will give the general public a rare glimpse into the operating room to view surgery "off pump," on a beating heart.

In 2006, the surgical team at the Institute's Memorial City location celebrated a milestone with the completion of its 1,500th off-pump coronary artery bypass graft surgery.

Drs. Gibson and Gomez began using the off-pump technique in 1999 and have performed more of the innovative, beating-heart procedures than any other team in the Houston area.

"We began using the off-pump technique because of the advantages it affords patients, such as faster recovery and fewer complications," Dr. Gibson said.

Traditional bypass surgery requires channeling the patient's blood through a heart/lung machine and stopping the heart while vessels are repaired. More than 800,000 patients worldwide undergo this type of procedure each year.

Breakthroughs in the last decade, however, enable surgeons to immobilize small sections of tissue and perform coronary bypasses without stopping the heart. This technique also requires a smaller incision than traditional bypasses.

During the procedure, Dr. Gomez will use a vein from the patient's leg or an artery located on the inside of the chest to create an alternative pathway for the oxygen-rich blood to enter the narrowed or blocked artery. The new graft helps blood "bypass" the narrowing or blockage. A device called an Octopus immobilizes a small section of the heart while the rest of the heart beats normally, supplying blood to the body. Suction cups attach to the heart muscle on either side of the artery on which the surgeons operate.

"Studies have shown off-pump techniques can reduce common complications and side effects associated with heart/lung machines, lowering the incidence of kidney failure and chest incision infections and minimizing the need for blood transfusions," said Dr. Gomez. These patients also generally spend less time in the hospital and recover faster.

"We take an aggressive approach to treating our patients," added Dr. Gomez. "We consider every patient referred to us a candidate for off-pump bypass."

While new technology makes beating-heart surgery possible, practical, and in many cases preferable to traditional bypass, the advanced procedure is recognized as requiring greater surgical skill. As a result, the off-pump option is still used in fewer than 25 percent of coronary bypasses in the United States. At the Memorial Hermann Heart & Vascular Institute-Memorial City, however, more than 97 percent of coronary bypasses are performed off pump.

Serving as online moderators during the live Webcast will be surgeon David F. Mobley, MD, and anesthesiologist Scott Duncan, MD. The moderators will receive e-mailed questions from viewers worldwide and relay them to Drs. Gomez and Gibson, who will answer selected, appropriate inquiries during the surgery. The Webcast will be available for online viewing for at least one year, and Drs. Gomez and Gibson will continue to receive and answer e-mailed questions for one week following the surgery.

The program is the eleventh in a series sponsored by Memorial Hermann Health System, giving medical professionals and consumers the opportunity to view innovative surgical procedures live on the Internet from anywhere in the world.

To view the Webcast, visit http://www.or-live.com/memorialhermann/1701.

For more information, contact Media Relations.