About Beating-Heart Bypass Surgeries

As the director of cardiothoracic surgery at Decatur Memorial Hospital, Dr. Marvin Derrick has played a key role in introducing open-heart surgery to the hospital and its patients. Now, Dr. Marvin Derrick and his colleagues, Drs. Smith and VanLe, offer beating-heart surgeries in many cardiac cases.

In the beating-heart coronary bypass surgery, surgeons perform the procedure without the use of a heart-lung machine. Also known as off-pump surgery for this reason, the technique allows the patient’s cardiovascular system to perform as normal while surgeons work. This is done using a tissue stabilizer that repositions the heart to provide access to the area where the bypass is needed. The stabilizer also serves to minimize the movement of the cardiac tissue during the bypass itself.

In other respects, the beating-heart bypass surgery resembles a traditional bypass. Surgeons take a vein from the patient’s leg or another accessible area and use it to reroute blood around a blocked artery in the heart. The beating-heart procedure frequently allows surgeons to achieve the same outcome with less pain, minimal bleeding, and a shorter recovery time for patients. However, only an experienced surgeon can determine whether this procedure is appropriate in a particular case.

What Is a Pacemaker?

A cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon with more than two decades of experience, Dr. Marvin Derrick presently sees patients at DMH Heart & Lung Institute and serves as director of Decatur Memorial Hospital Cardiothoracic Surgical Services. In addition to major surgical procedures on the blood vessels, heart, and lungs, Dr. Marvin Derrick performs minor surgeries such as pacemaker placement.

The heart has an electrical system that controls the speed and rhythm of the heartbeat to keep blood flowing properly throughout the body. A disruption in this electrical system, which is called heart arrhythmia, can cause a fluttering sensation in the heart, a heartbeat that is faster or slower than normal, shortness of breath, chest pain, and fainting. Heart arrhythmias stem from a variety of conditions and lifestyle factors, including heart disease, congenital heart problems, smoking, and the use of certain medications.

A pacemaker is a small electronic device that replaces the body’s own natural electrical system when the heartbeat is too slow. Implanted in the chest, the pacemaker is comprised of two parts. The pulse generator contains a small computer and a battery and is placed just under the skin near the heart. The leads are insulated wires that connect the pulse generator to the heart muscle. The pacemaker is programmed by the surgeon to send an electrical impulse to the heart when the heart rate drops to a certain level, or when the heart stops beating altogether. This stimulation causes the heart muscle to contract and beat so that it maintains a steady rate and rhythm.