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Rush staff performs less invasive bypass

By By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
Oct. 10, 2003
Jimmy Garrett noticed pains in his chest when he played golf.
He made an appointment to see a doctor. The next thing he knew, he was told he needed quadruple bypass surgery because of clogged blood vessels in his heart.
That was six months ago at the Rush Heart Institute at Rush Foundation Hospital.
Garrett, 46, of Meridian, is senior vice president of Citizens National Bank.
One reason Garrett will be able to get back on the golf course soon is because his doctor used a new procedure to remove a healthy blood vessel from his leg to use in the bypass operation on his heart. It is called endoscopic vessel harvesting and, according to Van Cleve, the Rush Heart Institute is the only place practicing the technique in Mississippi.
Heart bypass surgery is two surgeries in one. Not only does a surgeon use a healthy blood vessel to bypass the blocked arteries of the heart, a second procedure is necessary to remove, or harvest, a healthy blood vessel. This is usually taken from the patient's leg.
Traditionally the vein is removed through a long incision that may stretch from the groin to the ankle. Some patients who had this type of surgery have said they had more postoperative pain from the leg incision than from the chest incision.
Rehabilitation can be delayed and the long leg incision may make it more difficult for the patient to stand or walk after surgery.
He said Rush has done more than 100 endoscopic vein harvesting procedures.
Rather than making a long incision, one or more small incisions are made in the leg and a 7 mm endoscope, or camera, is inserted into the leg displaying images on a video monitor. The blood vessel is cut from the leg and removed through the small incision.
Garrett said the first question many people asked after his bypass surgery was, "How is your leg and the long incision?"