Heart Surgeons Tweet During Bypass Operation

Toronto surgeons recently brought Twitter followers with them into the surgery room, where they performed a coronary artery bypass graft on a 57-year-old patient. The goal: to raise awareness about heart health issues.

Surgeons at Sunnnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto took to Twitter to tweet facts, photographs, and video clips associatedwith the bypass graft. The surgeons also took the opportunity to press viewers to avoid activities that can hurt your heart, like smoking and eating high-fat, high-cholesterol foods.

Of course, the surgeons also wanted to show Twitter users what’s involved in bypass surgery. As they explained, the goal of a bypass operation is to enhance blood flow to the heart. This is usually done by clearing out arteries that have become clogged up by plaque associated with coronary artery disease. To eliminate this plague, surgeons often remove healthy blood vessels from another part of the body — like the leg — and then attach them to the clogged artery. In the case of the man who gave the surgeons permission to tweet his procedure, a radial artery was also harvested from his left arm.

The procedure took four hours to complete, but in the end was a smashing success — the grafts were attached and the heart resumed beating normally.

“Obviously we can’t bring the public into the operating room, so it’s nice to be able to broadcast what we do,” noted Sunnybrook chief of cardiac surgery, Dr. Gideon Cohen. “This is an engaging way of keeping the public informed.”

When asked by Twitter followers what it feels like to be involved in such a lengthy and sensitive operation, Cohen had this to say: “You don’t notice it at the time of the operation, but when you get home you feel pretty wiped … So it’s probably that kind of subconscious stress that gets to you at the end of the day.”


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