Four Dallas surgeons have been selected to teach a new heart bypass operation without using the heart-lung machine, to a select group of their peers from around the country. The unique continuing medical education program, sponsored by the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) and produced by Dallas-based Cardiopulmonary Research Science & Technology Institute (CRSTI), takes place at two different sites, simultaneously, on Monday and Tuesday, June 11 and 12.

Twenty-four of the nation's selected cardiovascular and thoracic surgeons will receive highly-skilled training in Beating Heart, or OPCAB (off-pump coronary artery bypass) surgery, from some of the country's pioneers in cardiac surgery. Twelve surgeons at each of the two training sites -- the Cleveland Clinic and the Presbyterian Institute for Minimally Invasive Technology (or PIMIT) at Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas -- will interact through telesurgery capabilities at the PIMIT -- while experts perform Beating Heart bypass surgery utilizing different heart stabilization devices. PIMIT's training facility allows the classroom surgeons to receive broadcast-quality images from the operating room, hear a physician moderator lecture them through the procedure, and pose questions from the classroom to the OR at both sites.

``The caliber of the physicians who are serving as faculty for this training program are among the best in the country at performing this cutting-edge bypass technique,'' said Donald Turney, Assistant Executive Director, Society of Thoracic Surgeons. ``This training program is pioneering a new way to train surgeons in areas of new and developing technology.''

The Beating Heart bypass operation is done without the need to stop the heart and circulate the blood artificially, thus avoiding the associated risks and complications of the heart-lung machine, including stroke and other neurological disorders. The two-day, hands-on training course will demonstrate the use of three different technologies in performing this revolutionary approach to bypass surgery.

``We applaud STS for their initiative in developing this innovative approach to continuing medical education,'' said Mitch Magee, MD, CRSTI Medical Director and faculty for the Off-Pump Surgery Training Program. ``An unique element to this course is the proctorship that follows the original training.''

For the first time in its history, STS is arranging for faculty of the Off-Pump Program to proctor the attendees after they leave the two-day training. The trainees will visit an assigned preceptor's institution and observe multiple off-pump cases in the operating room, while also engaging in extensive discussions with the preceptor about the technical aspects of the surgery. The clinical preceptor will then visit the trainee's institution to observe his performance of off-pump bypass surgery. The trainees will be expected to submit the outcomes of their cases during the first year. Outcomes will be evaluated by an STS committee to assess the impact of this multi-faceted training on their performance and on patient quality of care.

``By exposing surgeons to intensive and thorough training over a short period of time, with the continued support from an expert, we hope to enhance their learning curve and infuse the specialty of cardiac care with new skills quicker,'' said Thomas Franklin, Ph.D., President, Texas Health Research Institute, which manages and staffs the PIMIT.

PIMIT and CRSTI are committed to furthering the education of physicians in the use of minimally invasive technologies, and in evaluating the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of these treatments and therapies.

About CRSTI:
The Cardiopulmonary Research Science & Technology Institute (CRSTI) is a not-for-profit research organization dedicated to providing the most advanced medicines, technology and therapies to prevent, treat and cure heart, lung and circulatory disease through research, education and quality management initiatives. For more information visit their website at www.crsti.org.

About PIMIT:
The PIMIT is affiliated with the non-profit organization, Texas Health Resources (THR), which was formed by the merger of Presbyterian Healthcare System and Harris Methodist Health System in 1997. The staff's mission and goal are to facilitate quality training and research opportunities for physicians and other medical professionals. For more information visit their website atwww.pimit.org.