M I A M I, Aug. 12, 2000 -- A 61-year-old man stayed awake for the entire 4-hour, 10-minute open heart surgery operation performed on him by a team of three doctors.
Dr. Mark Anderson of the Miami Veterans’ Affairs Medical Center
performed a single coronary artery bypass graft Thursday using only
an epidural, an anesthetic shot injected into the spinal cord.
The operation began at 8:10 a.m. and was over at 12:20 p.m. The
patient, whose name was not made public, was reported to be in
stable condition at the hospital Thursday evening.
The two doctors who assisted in the operation, Juan Restrepo and
Gerard DeSouza, said they believed the operation was just the
second of its kind to be performed in the United States.
“This is a very tricky operation,” Restrepo said after the
procedure. “As well as upsides, there are risks in doing it this
The anesthetic procedure meant doctors did not have to insert a
tube down the patient’s windpipe. Using an epidural instead of a
general anesthetic also reduces a patient’s recovery time, in part
because there is much less stress response on a respirator.
The downside, said DeSouza, is that a higher level of anesthesia
is injected into the spinal cord than is used with general
anesthesia. That means the anesthetic has to be closely monitored
because it can stop a patient from breathing.