Medicine: When to Bypass the Bypass

Surgery is not always the answer for some heart patients

When it was introduced 15 years ago it was hailed as the biggest medical breakthrough of the decade. Since then, bypass surgery has become the most commonly performed heart operation in the U.S. (170,000 last year). It is a $3 billion industry, and thanks to the news media, which have faithfully chronicled operations on such notables as Henry Kissinger, Alexander Haig, Rock Hudson and Arthur Ashe, it has even achieved a certain social cachet. The bypass boom has led some doctors to fear that...

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