Photo by Art Streiber
Since the introduction of these alternate approaches (known as PCI procedures), their use has soared and today eclipses that of bypass.
Few studies, however, have compared these procedures against bypass, until now. One study looked at the mortality associated with bypass versus PCI procedures. It found that patients with multivessel disease who were 65 and older and those with diabetes had a lower mortality risk from bypass surgery. Patients younger than 55 fared slightly better with PCI procedures.
The second study looked at the health risks associated with bypass versus stenting. Higher risk patients who got stents were more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke within three years, and more likely to require a repeat procedure. Low-risk patients fared equally well with bypass and stents.
The results of these studies illuminate an important facet of medicine: No procedure is one size fits all. I discuss with my patients their unique situation, and we reach a decision together. These new findings are something that all heart surgeons, including myself, will be taking into account. You should, too.