Beating heart surgery has its perks

Dr. Pervaiz Chaudhry knows heart surgery. Since coming to Fresno just more than two years ago from UCLA, where he completed his training, Dr. Chaudhry estimates he’s performed as many as 15 to 25 surgeries per month.

And while his peers might have similar numbers, Dr. Chaudhry does things a little bit differently – he’s operated on 100% of his coronary artery bypass patients while their hearts were still beating.

This concept, known as off-pump or beating heart surgery, isn’t new. It’s just what he prefers over using a cardiopulmonary bypass (heart-lung) machine, a method that temporarily takes over the function of the heart and lungs during surgery to maintain the body’s blood flow and oxygen content.

Dr. Chaudhry said only 16% to 20% of cases across the country are done off-pump, but at Community Medical Centers it’s more than 70%.

While Dr. Chaudhry said he is trained to perform coronary artery bypass surgery either way, he notes several benefits of the off-pump procedure:

  • Significantly lower mortality rate for high-risk patients
  • Patients scored better in cognition, attention and memory, while 90% of heart-lung machine patients showed impairment
  • Lower incidence of stroke
  • Less heart cell damage
  • Less blood loss
  • Less costly

“At this stage, Community has excellent results,” Dr. Chaudhry said. “The mortality is equal or better than state or national average on these off-pump cases.”

The majority of Dr. Chaudhry’s patients are treated at Community Regional Medical Center in downtown Fresno, and he also operates at Community’s Fresno Heart & Surgical Hospital on Audubon Drive near Friant Avenue.

“In all parameters – we call them core measures – Community Regional is one of the leading hospitals at this time,” Dr. Chaudhry said. “And many improvements have occurred since we moved [from University Medical Center] to this new wing with a brand new intensive care unit and operating rooms.”

Dr. Chaudhry added that patients usually complain about waking up from surgery with a tube in their mouths from intubation, but he said he is able to remove the tubing in the operating room for 60% to 70% of his patients.

“I’ve seen the results,” Dr. Chaudhry said. “For the past year I have not discharged a patient on dialysis for kidney failure. I have not had a patient who’s had a stroke. I have sent people home within 48 hours of the surgery. It is rare that I have to give them any blood products.”


This story was reported by Eddie Hughes. He can be reached at eddieh@communitymedical.org.