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For heart bypass, old way is better


5 Star

For heart bypass, old way is better

Our Review Summary

This story reported on the results of a recent study comparing two ways of performing cardiac bypass surgery.  It did a good job of providing readers with the insight that avoiding use of a heart-lung machine did not appear to provide either short or long term benefit and that at least for the population studied, long term outcomes were not as good for those who had off-pump procedures.  In addition, the story accurately reported there were no signs of mental decline in those on the machines – a worry that fueled interest in the so-called “off-pump” procedures. The story included a cautionary suggestion from an editorial writer who felt that the results of the study would not affect the surgical choice of surgeons who do a lot of these procedures.  

Overall, the story was well done.


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The story did not mention how the cost per patient compared for the two procedures, though the journal article indicated that at least within the first 30 days after the operation, costs were similar.


Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


The story used absolute risk and compared the relevant outcomes in the two groups studied.

The story would have been strengthened if it had included some discussion about how individuals who did not undergo either treatment could be expected to compare with those who chose these active treatments.  

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?


Data on harms such as heart attack, need for additional revascularization procedures, strokes and cognitive impairment and death were included in this story.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?


The story detailed that the study reported on had been a randomized clinical trial involving 2,203 individuals and that the results might not be generalizable to other groups such as women, the elderly or those with other illnesses.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?


The story did not engage in overt disease mongering.  

The story did provide some interesting statistics. For example, it stated that cardiac bypass is the most common surgery in the world with 235,00 Americans undergoing the procedure each year but failed to reference where this information came from.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?


The story included a perspective from the writer of an editorial that accompanied the journal article.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?


This was a story about a study comparing on- and off-pump cardiac bypass surgery.  It reported on the comparative use of these two options.  

It might have been helpful to provide readers with perhaps a bit broader perspective that cardiac bypass is often not the only treatment choice available for dealing with coronary artery disease; the roles for medical therapy and percutaneous procedures in the treatment of heart disease could have been mentioned.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


This story was about comparing outcomes for on- and off- pump cardiac bypass surgery.  It stated that 1 in 5 bypasses are done off-pump.  It also mentioned that ‘Patients are sometimes offered a choice of methods’.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?


The story included relevant information about the use of both procedures in current clinical practice.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?


There’s no evidence that the story relied on a news release.

Total Score: 9 of 10 Satisfactory


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