- by Manipal Hospitals
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- Jun 13 2017
Everything You Need To Know About Heart Surgery
An open heart surgery is a surgical procedure in which the chest is cut open to operate on the diseased heart. It is used to treat several cardiac conditions. The common problems which may require an open heart surgery are birth defects of the heart, heart valve diseases, and coronary artery disease.
Open heart surgery is associated with significant risks and potential complications. Therefore, if you have to undergo an open heart surgery, you must know why or when this surgery is performed along with its procedure.
When is an open heart surgery performed?
An open heart surgery is especially recommended if the other treatments for heart conditions involving less risk, are not effective. Your doctor might recommend you to undergo this surgery for any of the below reasons:
- Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) – to replace the diseased coronary artery with healthy blood vessels taken from other places of your body. This is the most common surgery performed in adults. It is done in patients with coronary heart disease (CHD) to prevent heart attacks
- Heart transplant – to take out a severely damaged heart and place a new donor heart
- Implantation of medical devices – these devices can help your heart to beat normally and support its normal functioning
- Maze procedure – to treat irregularities in the heart beat such as atrial fibrillation which is not amenable to other treatment approaches
- Congenital defect repair – to correct heart problems present at birth
- Heart valve repair or replacement – to correct the defective functioning of the valves which regulate the flow of blood
How is an open heart surgery performed?
Your surgeon will give you either a general or a local anesthesia before starting the procedure. This helps to keep you free from the anxiety and pain associated with the surgery.
During the surgery, usually, a heart-lung machine is used to supply oxygenated blood to the brain and other organs. Once the surgery is completed, the machine is removed from your heart. However, it is not required in few of the heart surgeries.
A large incision of about 5-8 inches is made in your chest, through your sternum (i.e. the breastbone). The breastbone is opened using a surgical saw to expose your heart. This allows your surgeon to view and access the surgical area. After completing the procedure, the incision is closed with stitches and sutures. Some old patients and patients who have undergone multiple surgeries may need sternal plating to unite the sternal bones with small titanium plates after the surgery.
Some heart surgeries use minimally invasive techniques. For example, heart valve repair or replacement and CABG. In these procedures, smaller incisions are made, and an instrument called the endoscope is inserted to view the interior on a screen. These procedures have a faster recovery and are associated with less pain and a lower risk of complications.
Your hospital stay after the surgery is based on the type of procedure. The type of open heart surgery is based on your age, heart condition, general health and medical history. The type of surgery which is suitable for you is chosen by your surgeon while also considering your personal preference.
Any surgical procedure involves certain risks. But the risks with open heart surgery are relatively more. However, you may have to undergo this surgery considering the risk to benefit ratio with the surgery. Therefore, do not worry much if you have to undergo this surgery, as it is being decided after considering the overall benefits for you.
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