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Lankenau Heart Institute cardiac surgeon reaches historic milestone in robotic heart procedure

Lankenau Medical Center December 17, 2013 News Releases

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 Pennsylvania 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 Main Line Health

Founded in 1985, Main Line Health is a not-for-profit health system serving portions of Philadelphia and its western suburbs. Main Line Health’s commitment—to deliver advanced medicine to treat and cure disease while also playing an important role in prevention and disease management as well as training physicians and other health care providers—reflects our intent to keep our community and ourselves well ahead. A team of more than 10,000 employees and 2,000 physicians care for patients throughout the Main Line Health system.

At Main Line Health’s core are four of the region’s most respected acute care hospitals—Lankenau Medical Center, Bryn Mawr Hospital, Paoli Hospital and Riddle Hospital—as well as one of the nation’s recognized facilities for rehabilitative medicine, Bryn Mawr Rehabilitation Hospital.

The Main Line Health system also includes Mirmont Treatment Center for drug and alcohol recovery; Main Line Health HomeCare & Hospice, which includes skilled home health care, hospice and home infusion services; Main Line Health Centers, primary and specialty care, lab and radiology, and other outpatient services located in Broomall, Collegeville, Concordville, Exton and Newtown Square; Lankenau Institute for Medical Research, a biomedical research organization; and Main Line HealthCare, one of the region’s largest multispecialty physician networks.

Main Line Health is the recipient of numerous awards for quality care and service, including System Magnet® designation, the nation’s highest distinction for nursing excellence, the Mid-Atlantic Alliance for Performance Excellence (MAAPE) Excellence Award, and recognition as among the nation’s best employers by Forbes magazine. Main Line Health is committed to creating an environment of diversity, respect and inclusion and has proudly embraced the American Hospital Association’s #123forEquity Pledge to Act to eliminate disparities in care. We are dedicated to advancing patient-centered care, education and research to help our community stay healthy.

About Lankenau Heart Institute

The Lankenau Heart Institute is Main Line Health’s premier, comprehensive cardiovascular medicine and surgery program. The Lankenau Heart Institute brings together the clinical expertise of all four Main Line Health acute care hospitals and community cardiology practices to ensure that patients receive a level of quality, service, and experience that is unprecedented in the region. Through the system-wide coordination of services, the Lankenau Heart Institute delivers preventive, diagnostic, therapeutic, and rehabilitative cardiovascular services at each of our locations including Lankenau Medical Center, Bryn Mawr Hospital, Paoli Hospital and Riddle Hospital.

With a collaborative team of expert consultative cardiologists, interventional cardiologists, electrophysiologists, cardiovascular surgeons and specially trained nurses and technologists, the Lankenau Heart Institute is dedicated to managing and treating patients with heart failure, aortic disease, coronary and peripheral vascular disease, heart rhythm disorders and valve disease. Our team of cardiologists and cardiac specialists provide patients and their families with expert cardiac care, close to home.

Contact

Bridget Therriault
Director, Communications
Office: 484.580.1025
Cell: 484.222.9154
therriaultb@mlhs.org