Robotic Procedure Spares Alex from Major Heart Surgery

September 24, 2015

Alex Cardiac Patient

Six years ago, Alex scheduled an appointment with a cardiologist at his wife's insistence. He failed a stress test and underwent cardiac catheterization. The results showed he had a blockage, but he was told it was not yet serious enough to require treatment.

Recently, Alex scheduled another visit, again prodded by his wife but also by his concerns about shortness of breath and fatigue. Although the cardiologist was different, the results were the same. Alex failed the stress test and had another cardiac catheterization. This time, the cardiologist told him he needed triple bypass surgery.

Put off by the “scary details” and the “pushy” nature of a cardiovascular surgeon who recommended surgery immediately, Alex opted for a second opinion. Through online research, he found Dr. Michael Cortelli, chief of adult cardiac surgery at Memorial Cardiac and Vascular Institute, and made an appointment.

Not convinced that Alex needed surgery, Dr. Cortelli suggested a visit with Dr. Juan Pastor-Cervantes, interventional cardiologist and medical director of the cardiac catheterization laboratory at Memorial Cardiac and Vascular Institute.

Dr. Pastor-Cervantes scheduled another cardiac catheterization, this time in Memorial's high-tech catheterization lab. The procedure determined that only one vessel required treatment. Alex was taken to Memorial Cardiac and Vascular Institute's robotic angioplasty suite – the only facility of its kind in Broward County – where Dr. Pastor-Cervantes used a robot for the precise placement of a stent.

“We were able to do the entire procedure through his wrist, and Alex was up and walking within two hours,” Dr. Pastor-Cervantes said. In comparison, Dr. Pastor-Cervantes noted that surgery would have involved a large, mid-sternal incision, invasive procedures, a hospital stay of five to seven days and an extended recovery period.

“When it's needed, it's needed,” said Dr. Pastor-Cervantes. “But in this particular case, Alex needed to have just one, only one stent. And that's what we did.

Because the stent procedure was completed late in the day, Alex stayed overnight at the hospital. The next day, he went back to his job as manager of a legal office.

“The procedure made me feel so much better that it was a positive not a negative to be at work,” Alex said.

Alex appreciated the compassionate care he received at Memorial, where people “were more caring than other places I've been.”

“What I found at Memorial are people who excel,” Alex observed. “Memorial TotalHeart care made all the difference for me.”

Doctor’s Second Opinion Fixed Alex’s Heart at Memorial Cardiac and Vascular Institute

A second opinion, and a robotic procedure from Dr. Pastor-Cervantes meant he didn't need open-heart surgery.