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Mercy Hospital Announces New Advances In Minimally Invasive Cardiac Surgery Program

October 27, 2009

South Buffalo residents Sandy Ostrander, a 20-year associate of Mercy Hospital's Pathology Department, and husband Tim Ostrander, who recently underwent minimally invasive heart surgery, are pleased with their experience.

South Buffalo residents Sandy Ostrander, a 20-year associate of Mercy Hospital's Pathology Department, and husband Tim Ostrander, who recently underwent minimally invasive heart surgery, are pleased with their experience.

Remaining on the forefront of medical technology, the Catholic Health Heart Center at Mercy Hospital of Buffalo has announced new advances in its minimally invasive cardiac surgery program. Mercy is now offering robotic-assisted and minimally invasive coronary artery bypass and valve replacement surgery using the most state-of-the-art techniques and equipment available.

“Minimally invasive cardiac surgery has significant benefits for the patient,” explained Mercy Hospital cardiothoracic surgeon Serrie C. Lico, M.D. “Besides less pain, minimal scarring, and less risk of infection or complications, recovery time is much quicker, allowing patients to return to normal activities such as driving a car a week after surgery compared to a month or more following traditional open heart surgery.”

“With a minimally invasive approach, we can successfully perform a bypass surgery with a 7 to 10 centimeter chest incision below the left breast,” Dr. Lico continued. “This is a key advantage in the healing process since traditional open heart surgery requires a 10 to 14 inch incision and sawing through the breast bone to provide access to the heart. The procedure can be painful and the bones can take more than three months to heal,” said Dr. Lico. He estimated that about 30 percent of his patients are candidates for the minimally invasive technique, and this number continues to grow with evolving technology and expertise.

According to John Bell-Thomson, M.D., Chair of Mercy Hospital’s Cardiothoracic Surgery Department, the Heart Center is currently operating a highly advanced minimally invasive heart surgery program for the Western New York region, performing minimally invasive and robotic-assisted coronary artery bypass and valve replacement surgical procedures. “These advanced procedures, including single and multi-vessel coronary bypass surgery, are often performed with the assistance of the state-of-the-art daVinci® Robotic Surgical System at Mercy Hospital,” said Dr. Bell-Thomson. “We are able to offer our patients a better experience by taking advantage of leading-edge surgical technology.”

Buffalo resident Tim Ostrander, a patient of SURGXL, the physician practice of Drs. Bell-Thomson and Lico, can vouch for the quick recovery he experienced with recent minimally invasive heart surgery. “When discussing my options, I asked my surgeon, Dr. Lico, how heart surgery could be performed through such a small hole,” recalled Ostrander. “He said it was magic and we had a good laugh before he further explained the procedure to me in a very professional manner…It was easy to be confident in him.”

“Today, just a couple months after surgery, I must say that it did feel like magic,” said Ostrander. “I remember having very little pain and just a bit of muscle soreness right after surgery. I was back driving in a week; I returned to work after a month; and I’m left with a slight scar under my left chest that is barely noticeable…I say to my friends that I had a great surgeon who can also perform magic.”

“Minimally invasive heart surgery is the wave of the future and making it available locally is important to our community,” said C.J. Urlaub, President and CEO of Mercy Hospital. “It gives our patients peace of mind in knowing that they don’t have to travel outside the region to receive this level of advanced cardiac care. We are making it available around-the-clock and just minutes away from home.”

Mercy Hospital of Buffalo was one of the first hospitals in the Western New York region to offer the daVinci® Robotic Surgical System. Today, Mercy Hospital is using this advanced robotic technology in a variety of minimally invasive urologic, cardiac, gynecologic and general surgical procedures.

In 2009, the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) awarded the Mercy heart surgery program a “three-star” national quality rating – the highest category of quality achieved under the STS quality rating system. Only 15% of the approximately 900 participating hospitals across the country received a “three-star” rating for the period covering January 2008 to December 2008.

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