Announcing a new alternative to open-heart surgery

Due to its ongoing investment in new technologies and specialties, the Erlanger Heart and Lung Institute is now among the very best heart centers in the country with new cardiac bypass surgery.

Recently, the Institute announced the arrival of Dr. Larry Shears – one of the world’s most experienced robotic heart surgeons and a specialist in robotic coronary artery bypass surgery. Unlike traditional bypass surgery that requires opening the chest, this procedure can be performed through three small incisions. Erlanger Heart and Lung Institute is the only heart center in the region to offer this specialty, and just one of a few across the country.

Meet Dr. Larry Shears, Erlanger’s world-class robotic heart surgeon

While robotic cardiac bypass surgery is new to Chattanooga, Dr. Shears has been performing it for more than a decade. In 2001, he was one of two doctors to perform the first robotic surgery on a beating heart. Throughout his career, he has done more than 500 robotic heart surgeries.

Dr. Shears was drawn to robotic cardiac bypass surgery, because he wanted to provide a less invasive alternative to open-heart surgery. As he explains, “Patients are able to reap the same benefits with fewer medical complications – and it also saves them time and expense.”

While patients who undergo traditional bypass surgery can take months to recuperate, Dr. Shears says his patients often leave the hospital in one or two days and return to work in one or two weeks.

A groundbreaking alternative for a wider range of patients

Using robotic surgery, Dr. Shears is able to perform multiple procedures at the same time, including valve replacements and valve stents. And because the technique is less invasive, more patients can be treated – even high-risk patients who are not suited for open-heart surgery.

“Older patients see real benefits, because they are often able to recover in their own homes instead of a nursing home or rehabilitation facility,” says Dr. Shears. “It’s also a great alternative for younger patients who do not want a long recovery process. One recent patient was able to play soccer with his children 11 days after surgery. Another ran a marathon six weeks after surgery.”

Why the Erlanger Heart and Lung Institute

Dr. Shears says he joined the Erlanger Heart and Lung Institute for a number of reasons. “I enjoy being part of a specialized team that focuses on innovation. Each doctor brings a high level of expertise, and we are actively working to build programs that will advance cardiac care in the community and on a national scale.”

In addition to his robotic surgical practice, Dr. Shears is working to build an artificial heart program featuring the LVAD (Left Ventricular Assist Device). He has performed numerous LVAD procedures and has been impressed by how the device helps the heart pump more effectively.

One other reason why Dr. Shears chose the Institute is his fondness for Chattanooga. “I like being outdoors, and Chattanooga allows me to do more of the things I love – rock climbing, biking and running marathons. We had 37 inches of snow in Pennsylvania last year, so Chattanooga was an easy choice.”

The new Erlanger Heart and Lung Institute offers an elite team of cardiologists able to perform minimally invasive procedures with faster recovery and fewer complications. Book an appointment or call 423-778-5661, today.