Nurse Practitioner Receives Robotic Heart Surgery after Enduring Heart Issues for Several Years | Ascension

Nurse Practitioner Receives Robotic Heart Surgery after Enduring Heart Issues for Several Years

4 years ago, on September 13, 2017, Judy Cole endured a heart attack.

“I was rushed into emergency surgery at 3 a.m. and Dr. Kelly Davis, cardiologist at Ascension Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital, put 3 stents in my heart,” said Judy, now 67. Judy was doing well post-surgery until April 2021, when she started experiencing chest pains that got progressively worse. “ I went back to see Dr. Davis,” said Judy. She ordered me to take a stress test at Ascension Saint Thomas Hospital River Park, but that came back negative.”

Judy continued to experience chest pains and they started to become more severe. “My mother died at 53 from a heart attack,” said Judy. “I had a nagging feeling that I needed to get checked again. I told Dr. Davis that heart disease is prominent with females in my family.” Dr. Davis ordered a cardiac catheterization which allowed them to see extensively what was going on. It turns out that Judy had 3 blocked vessels. This sort of blockage could have caused another heart attack or damage to the heart muscle. Dr. Davis then recommended Judy see Dr. Ashok Babu, cardiothoracic surgeon at Ascension Saint Thomas Hospital West. 

“When I saw Dr. Babu, we discussed every option that was available,” said Judy. “He was so kind and wanted to make sure I understood everything that was going on. I was terrified of having my chest split open.” “After further evaluation, my team and I decided Judy would be the perfect candidate for our new robotic surgery program,” said Dr. Babu. “I was simply elated that he was going to be able to do my surgery this way,” said Judy.

On October 4, 2021, Judy had a robotic assisted MIDCAB. A robotically assisted MIDCAB is a minimally invasive procedure in which the surgeon makes several tiny incisions between your ribs then inserts small robotic arms and a small camera through the incisions. “This allows patients to have faster recovery time and doesn't require us to open up their chest,” said Dr. Babu. “We have been doing this procedure for 2 years now and have served around 300 patients.” 

Just 5 weeks later, Judy was back doing her job as a nurse practitioner at NorthStar Primary Care. “The recovery time for this procedure versus open heart surgery is no comparison,” said Judy. “I didn't have to take any pain medication. You can’t even tell where Dr. Babu made his incision. I started my cardiac rehabilitation which includes cardiovascular exercising to get my heart pumping. I am thankful to Dr. Babu, who recommended this procedure, so I could have a better recovery time and go back to doing the things I needed to do.”

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