Objectives: Although minimal extracorporeal circulation (MECC) and off-pump surgery are equal or better alternatives to conventional cardiopulmonary bypass (CCPB) regarding perioperative morbidity, use of blood and blood products and completeness of revascularization, CCPB is still being used in the majority of coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) operations.
Methods and results: We investigated 1472 CABG operations in our center. A total of 1143 CABG operations were performed using CCPB, 220 using MECC and 109 were performed as off-pump coronary artery bypass (OPCAB). All patients were recorded prospectively. Perioperative follow-up was focused on the occurrence of arrhythmia, neurocognitive disorders and the need of blood and blood products. Operative mortality rates were comparable in all three groups. The mean number of distal anastomoses was 3.2+/-0.6 in the MECC group, 3.4+/-0.7 in the CCPB group and 1.9+/-0.8 in the OPCAB group (P=0.01). Arrhythmia occurred in 25% of the MECC group and in 35.6% of the CCPB group (P=0.05). Arrhythmia occurred in 21.7% of the OPCAB group. Seven patients (3%) of the MECC group suffered neurocognitive disorders perioperatively compared to 74 (7%) patients of the CCPB group (P=0.05) and three patients of the OPCAB group (3%). The median number of blood transfusions per patient was 0.8 in the MECC group, 1.8 in the CCPB group and 0.8 in the OPCAB group (P<0.0001).
Conclusions: Perioperative morbidity of MECC and OPCAB is comparable to or even less in comparison to CCPB. MECC allows CABG surgery in cardiac arrest so that completeness of revascularization is being warranted and longer patency rates can be guaranteed. Furthermore, the use of blood and blood products is significantly less in MECC surgery so that MECC should be considered first choice in CABG surgery over CCPB and OPCAB.