Houston doctors tweet live open-heart surgery

Author: Rachel McNeill, Anchor/Medical Expert, rmcneill@kprc.com
Published On: Feb 21 2012 07:06:32 AM CST   Updated On: Feb 21 2012 04:26:41 PM CST
HOUSTON -

More than 5,000 people watched a live, open-heart surgery via Twitter Tuesday -- a medical first.

From prepping the patient for surgery until the very last stitch, thousands of Twitter followers watched the first-in-the-nation live open-heart surgery on Twitter.

The three-hour double coronary artery bypass was performed by Dr. Michael Macris, medical director of cardiovascular surgery at Memorial Hermann Northwest in Houston.

He told Local 2 everything went "very smoothly. Couldn't ask for a nicer case."

The live surgery was all in honor of Heart Month.

Twitter followers were able to watch as Dr. Macris operated on a 57-year-old man. However, let's be clear -- Dr. Macris was not the one tweeting.

His colleagues posted more than 100 tweets complete with video and still photo explainers, reaching 225,000 people.

Dr. Macris said, "It's also nice to see how the team works together -- how the various aspects of the operation are brought into play. So they did a nice job but a lot of work went into it. It was like a choreography almost."

What's more, during the operation, Twitter followers could tweet their questions to another doctor on hand. Many wanted to know why Dr. Macris was wearing a cooling jacket as he operated on the beating heart without using a heart lung bypass machine.

He explained, "This patient was a heavy smoker, has bad emphysema. (Patients) don't get any ill effects from the heart lung machine this way. The downside is the patient can get very cold if the chest is open, so we warm up the room. If you warm up the room, the surgeon gets hot. So one time, I went to a Nascar race and I saw Richard Petty wearing a cool suit and I said, 'You know, that's a great idea.'"

The patient is doing great and already off the breathing machine. He will likely go home later this week. If you missed the live Twitter feed, you can watch the archived version online.