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Surgery in 140 characters or less: Hospital to live tweet cardiac bypass

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TORONTO - It has allowed us to share in the exploration of space. And now Twitter is taking us into the mysteries of the human heart.

The 140-character social platform, used to extraordinary effect by Canadian astronaut Commander Chris Hadfield last year, will host a cardiac bypass surgery on Thursday.

The social media team of Toronto's Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre will live tweet a CABG. The acronym, pronounced "cabbage," stands for coronary artery bypass graft.

Beginning at 8 a.m. EST, @Sunnybrook will be tweeting updates and images of the surgery bearing the hashtag #SBheart. People interested can pose questions which will be answered in real time.

Hospital spokeswoman Marie Sanderson says the idea behind the event is to educate the public about heart disease. The event will be archived at www.sunnybrook.ca/Sbheart.

The hospital believes it will be the first Canadian facility to live tweet heart surgery. But it's definitely not the first to bring the twittersphere into the operating room.

In 2012 Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, Texas, live tweeted brain surgery to an audience estimated to be 14.5 million people. And last fall a British hospital gave tweeps a front-row seat for a cataract surgery.

Follow @Helen Branswell on Twitter.

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