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Lankenau Heart Institute Cardiac Surgeon Reaches Historic Milestone in Robotic Heart Procedure

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Lankenau Heart Institute’s chief of Cardiac Surgery, Francis Sutter, DO, recently completed his 1000th coronary artery bypass (CABG) procedure using the daVinci Surgical System, giving one PA resident his heart back for the holidays. Dr. Sutter has performed more robotic CABGs than any other U.S. surgeon.

His 1000th surgery was performed on Morrie Richfield, who was in need of a coronary bypass due to severe blockage in his arteries. Richfield returned to work less than one week following his surgery and has since resumed all normal activities, including the writing of his third novel to be released in the summer of 2014.

“Because of Dr. Sutter and his team, I have a whole new chance at life and will forever be grateful and indebted to the Lankenau team for what they did for me,” Richfield said.

“The daVinci enables me to perform coronary artery bypass surgery through a 1¾ -inch incision,” Sutter explained. “When my patients undergo this type of surgery, they are out of the operating room and back to their normal daily routines frequently in two weeks or less—just like Mr. Richfield. That’s at least one-third of the time it takes for traditional coronary artery bypass surgery.”

According to the Society of Thoracic Surgeons national database, the majority of bypass operations are performed traditionally — by cutting the patient’s chest open, causing increased pain, multiple postoperative complications, and a much longer recovery period.

Sutter is one of five leaders in the nation who have adopted minimally invasive coronary bypass surgery and is the busiest CABG surgeon in Pennsylvania utilizing this method. He consistently has expected or better than patient outcomes of any surgeon as recognized in the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4) public report card. Over the past five years, more than 50 percent of all CABG procedures at Lankenau have been performed robotically using a single, 1¾-inch incision. 

While some recent reports question whether robotic surgery produces better outcomes for patients, Sutter’s experience, results and continued volume growth have proven the efficacy of the da Vinci Surgical System for heart surgery with dramatically decreased patient recovery time and significantly less pain via the smaller incision. Sutter fully believes the surgeon’s skill, training and incremental learning are key factors to successful outcomes.

“There isn’t a single surgical tool going back to the first scalpel that wasn’t dependent on practice and a skilled user to achieve the very best results,” Sutter said. “Surgical excellence, like performing my 1000th robotic CABG, revolves around one basic principal—improving upon the existing procedure, making surgery safer and easier for the patient.”

Sutter advises all patients facing coronary bypass surgery to ask questions and explore all options. And, most importantly, to make sure to choose a surgeon who has performed hundreds of heart surgeries—not just several. Experience is the number-one criteria a person should consider in a surgeon.

About Lankenau Medical Center

Lankenau Medical Center, a member of Main Line Health, is recognized as a national leader in advancing new options to diagnose and treat illness, protect against disease and save lives. Located on a 93-acre suburban campus just outside of Philadelphia, the 389-bed, not-for-profit teaching hospital includes one of the nation’s leading cardiovascular centers; the Lankenau Institute of Medical Research, one of the few freestanding hospital-associated research centers in the nation; and the Annenberg Conference Center for Medical Education. Lankenau offers state-of-the-art services from cancer care to maternity care. Lankenau is ranked #14 in Pennsylvania and #10 in the Philadelphia metro area in US News & World Report’s Best Hospitals, and is high-performing in 12 of 16 potential categories: cancer, cardiology and heart surgery, diabetes and endocrinology, ear, nose and throat, gastroenterology and GI surgery, geriatrics, gynecology, nephrology, neurology and neurosurgery, orthopedics, pulmonology and urology. Lankenau has achieved The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for stroke care and breast cancer care and is one of the nation’s Top Performing Hospitals for heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia and surgical care. Lankenau has also been ranked for multiple years as one of the top 50 cardiovascular hospitals in the nation by Truven Health Analytics. The hospital has achieved MAGNET® designation, the nation’s highest award for excellence in nursing care. For more information about Lankenau Medical Center, visit mainlinehealth.org/lankenau.

Contact
Bridget Therriault
Director, Communications
Office: 484-580-1025
Cell: 484-222-9154
therriaultb@mlhs.org

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