Is OPCAB worth the pain and effort?

Isn’t it interesting to know that the first ever successful bypass was done as a beating heart operation? This was way back in 1964 by a Russian surgeon, Colosev. But since then the conventional bypass operation has developed as a safe procedure and has stood the test of time.

Interest in OPCAB was rekindled in the late 80s and 90s. Due to the steep learning curve and lack of evidence for better outcome compared to standard operation, many surgeons lost initial enthusiasm and went back to the old time tested methods. The few who persisted – many of them in India- have provided valuable information regarding the safety and efficacy of this demanding surgery. 

From the emerging data across the world it is now clear that OPCAB can be as complete a bypass operation as the standard one. It provides better results in terms of early deaths, strokes and kidney failures. The difference becomes far more apparent in high risk patients especially very old and those having diminished kidney or lung functions. One of the most important areas where OPCAB is making its mark is the field of repeat operations. OPCAB reduces the blood loss and recovery time in those situations. 

In short, OPCAB in experienced hands is as complete and more safe than the standard operation. It may be ideally suited in very old and critically sick patients.