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Richard A.

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Richard A.

Minimally Invasive Robotic-assisted Bypass Surgery

2013 was a very happy 76th birthday for Richard A. of South Easton, Massachusetts. He celebrated his birthday without having had open heart surgery and experiencing six to eight weeks of recovery after a cardiac bypass threatened his life. Richard is one of a growing number of individuals who have opted for robotic-assisted bypass surgery performed by Dr. Arvind Agnihotri, chief of the Steward Center for Advanced Cardiac Surgery at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center.

Richard’s story begins when he was on vacation in Maine. While enjoying the weather and the company of his wife, family and friends he began to experience intense shortness of breath and was taken by his wife to a local hospital. Finding water in his lungs, the emergency medical team immediately addressed the concern but also wanted to check him for cardiac blockage. After an echocardiogram, and confirmation of a blockage, the physicians in Maine contacted Richard’s primary care physician, Dr. John Dowling of the Steward Medical Group Newton Primary Care Practice.

"I've known Dr. Dowling for 35 years. I worked for UPS and Dr. Dowling used to do the company physicals,” says Richard. “I definitely wanted him involved. After speaking to the doctors in Maine, Dr. Dowling told my wife and I to get back to Boston immediately and come in because he wanted to evaluate me for a less invasive procedure.” 

What followed was a series of immediately-scheduled appointments. Richard and Lois saw St. Elizabeth’s chief of cardiovascular medicine Dr. Joseph Carrozza who recommended that they consult with Dr. Agnihotri on a procedure he specializes in called robotic-assisted bypass surgery.

According to Dr. Agnihotri, by using robotic-assisted surgery, potentially traumatic procedures such as bypass can be performed through one- to two-inch incisions, without spreading or cutting the breastbone or ribs, thereby minimizing blood loss, pain and scarring. 

"Dr. Agnihotri said the surgery was going to be less invasive," comments Richard. "I have friends who have had their chests cracked open and have much longer recovery times. I didn’t want that and my wife didn’t want that."

After the procedure, Richard had a brief hospital stay and was discharged home with simple care instructions and medications. Throughout it all both Dr. Agnihotri and Dr. Dowling visited with him, reassured him, and were both very calm and available.

“I left the hospital and refused the wheelchair. It’s really a miracle,” Richard proudly states. “I have talked with friends who have had the open surgery and they all had at least six to eight weeks recovery time. I was at home and within a few weeks my wife was telling me to slow down.” 

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