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Lankenau Heart Institute Cardiac Surgeon Reaches Historic Milestone In Robotic Heart Procedure

WYNNEWOOD, Pa., Dec. 16, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Lankenau Heart Institute's chief of Cardiac Surgery, Francis Sutter, M.D., recently completed his 1000th coronary artery bypass (CABG) procedure using the da Vinci Surgical System, giving one PA 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 da Vinci 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 the Lankenau Heart Institute 
As one of the top-performing cardiovascular medicine and surgery programs in the country, the Lankenau Heart Institute provides world-class, innovative care to patients with heart disease at every stage. With multiple hospitals and community practices throughout the Philadelphia region—including the Heart Pavilion at Lankenau Medical Center—the team of cardiologists, cardiovascular surgeons and subspecialists seamlessly integrates prevention, diagnostics, treatment, rehabilitation and chronic disease management into one uncompromising service line that delivers life-saving treatments with life-changing outcomes. Lankenau Medical Center is a member Main Line Health. For more information about Lankenau Medical Center, visit

About Main Line Health
Founded in 1985, Main Line Health (MLH) is a not-for-profit health system serving portions of Philadelphia and its western suburbs. At its core are four of the region's respected acute care hospitals — Lankenau Medical Center, Bryn Mawr Hospital, Paoli Hospital and Riddle Hospital — as well as one of the nation's premier facilities for rehabilitative medicine, Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital; Mirmont Treatment Center for drug and alcohol recovery; and the Home Care Network, a home health service. Main Line Health also consists of Main Line HealthCare, one of the region's largest multi-specialty physician networks, and the Lankenau Institute for Medical Research, a non-profit biomedical research organization located on the campus of Lankenau Medical Center. Main Line Health hospitals, with more than 10,000 employees and 2,000 physicians, are the recipients of numerous awards for quality care and service, including recognition among Truven Health Analytics' list of Top 100 Hospitals and top 20% of health systems in the nation, and Magnet®, the nation's highest honor for nursing excellence. Main Line Health is among the area's leaders in medicine, providing advanced patient-centered care, education and research to help our community stay healthy.

SOURCE Main Line Health
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