Glossary of Terms
Beating Heart Surgery (Off-Pump Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery)
A term used to describe coronary artery bypass grafting surgery in which the heart is allowed to continue beating normally while the bypasses are being performed by the surgeon and the surgical team. In most heart surgeries, including coronary artery bypass surgery, the heart is supported with the heart-lung machine. The vast majority of heart operations require that the heart is stopped so that the surgery can be performed. In recent years, technology and techniques have been developed that allow some patients to have coronary artery bypass surgery performed without the need for heart-lung machine support. In these cases the patient's heart is not stopped, but is allowed to beat normally while the surgeon performs the required coronary artery bypasses. Not all patients are candidates for off-pump/beating heart coronary artery bypass surgery. The potential benefits of performing the surgery in this fashion are a quicker recovery, shorter hospital stay, and avoiding the potential physiological effects of being on the heart-lung machine.