Overlake offers less invasive heart surgery

Sammamish resident Mark Phelps (left) underwent minimally invasive cardiac surgery at Overlake in February. He was operated on by Dr. Robert Binford (right).  - Keegan Prosser, Bellevue Reporter
Sammamish resident Mark Phelps (left) underwent minimally invasive cardiac surgery at Overlake in February. He was operated on by Dr. Robert Binford (right).
— image credit: Keegan Prosser, Bellevue Reporter

Overlake Medical Center in Bellevue is now offering an alternative to invasive heart surgery for patients seeking to fix problems that don’t require the breast bone to be broken. The “Minimally Invasive Cardiac Surgery” (MICS), was introduced by Dr. Robert Binford this fall. The procedure aims to reduce trauma, pain and recovery time, while decreasing blood loss, and the chance of infection.

Prior to working at Overlake, Binford worked as a heart surgeon in Tennessee, where he and is partner were doing approximately 75 of the surgeries a year.

The purpose of the surgery tis to fix tissue that supports the heart valve’s opening which can weaken and lose its shape over time. To repair this condition, a device called an annuloplasty ring or band is sewn around the base of the heart valve to reshape it and give it support.

Sammamish resident Mark Phelps had the surgery in February, after discovering his heart’s mitral valve was not working correctly. Phelps was the first patient to have this surgery at Overlake.

Phelps said it took him about a year to sense that something was wrong with his heart and that he needed to take action. Through a series of tests it was discovered the mitral valve in his heart was failing, and that his heart was pumping 50 percent more blood (than is standard) to maintain his status quo during rest.

Binford said with an invasive, or “open procedure,” it takes between three and four months for a patient to fully recover, with restrictions on how much they can lift for the first 12 weeks. Patients who have this procedure done are generally able to return to a desk job after six to eight weeks; patients returning to a more physical job usually return in three to four months.

However, the less invasive procedure allows a quicker turnaround. Binford says the weight restrictions only apply to the first two weeks after surgery. Patients who have the less invasive procedure are also able to leave the hospital sooner, can drive one to two weeks after surgery and can return to work in a week’s time.

In addition to fixing problems with the mitral valve, Binford said the minimally invasive procedure can be used on the aortic valve, tricuspid valve, holes in the heart and irregular heart rhythms.

“Who knows what we can do in 10 years,” Binford said. “Because things keep getting better.”


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