2013 will be a very happy 76th birthday for Richard A. of South Easton, Mass. He will be celebrating his birthday without having had his chest cracked open and experiencing six to eight weeks of recovery after a cardiac bypass threatened his life. Richard is one of a growing number of individuals who have opted for robotic bypass surgery performed by Arvind Agnihotri, MD, chief of the Center for Advanced Cardiac Surgery at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Brighton.
Richard’s story starts while on vacation in Maine. While enjoying the weather and the company of his wife, family and friends he began to experience intense shortness of breath and was taken by his wife to a local hospital. Finding water in his lungs, the emergency medical team immediately addressed the concern but also wanted to check him for cardiac blockage. After an echocardiogram, and confirmation of a blockage, the physicians in Maine and then contacted Richard’s primary care physician, John Dowling, MD, of the Steward Medical Group Newton Primary Care Practice.
According to Richard, “I’ve known Dr. Dowling for 35 years. I worked for UPS and Dr. Dowling used to do the company physicals. I definitely wanted him involved. After speaking to the doctors in Maine, Dr. Dowling told my wife Lois and I to get back to Boston immediately and come in because there was a less invasive procedure he wanted me evaluated for.”
What followed was a series of immediately-scheduled appointments. Richard and Lois saw St. Elizabeth’s chief of cardiovascular medicineJoseph Carrozza, MD who recommended that they consult with Dr. Agnihotri on a procedure he specialized in – robotic bypass surgery.
According to Dr. Agnihotri, by using the da Vinci® Surgical System, potentially traumatic procedures such as bypass can be performed through one- to two-inch incisions, without spreading or cutting the breastbone or ribs, thereby minimizing blood loss, pain and scarring.
This is exactly what Richard wanted to hear. “Dr. Agnihotri said the surgery was going to be less invasive. I have friends who have had their chests cracked open and has much longer recovery times. I didn’t want that and my wife didn’t want that,” he said.
After the procedure, Richard had a brief hospital stay and was discharged home with simple home care instructions and medications.
“I left the hospital and refused the wheelchair,” Richard proudly stated. Throughout it all, he said, both Dr. Agnihotri and Dowling visited with him, reassured him and were both very calm and available.
“It’s really a miracle,” said Richard. “I have talked with friends who have had the open surgery and they all had at least six to eight weeks recovery, some of them have had their hearts removed from their bodies and put on ice even. I was at home and within a few weeks, my wife was telling me to slow down.”
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