Your Questions Answered on Open Heart Surgery
Open Heart Surgery (OHS)
Open Heart Surgery is a procedure performed on the heart where the function of the heart is taken over by heart-lung machine during the surgery. The beating of the heart is temporarily stopped and the body's oxygen demand is met by the heart-lung machine (also called cardiopulmonary bypass machine). This machine is used to help provide oxygen-rich blood to the brain and other vital organs. In Open Heart Surgery the chest is opened by cutting through the breast bone (sternotomy). Beating Heart Surgery is a variant of Open Heart Surgery where the heart is not stopped but is still beating while the surgeon performs the procedure.
If you have any of the following heart conditions, then you are an ideal candidate for Open Heart Surgery:
Open Heart Surgery is considered a major surgical procedure performed under general anesthesia in a hospital setting equipped with sophisticated equipment, skilled and experienced surgeons and nurses and excellent post-operative care. Open Heart Surgery may take about 3 - 5 hours depending upon the complexity of procedure. The surgeon opens the chest wall, first by making an incision through the skin and secondly by cutting through the breast bone (sternotomy) to expose the heart. In order to expose the heart completely, thymus gland is removed. The heart is stopped with cold, high potassium solution which protects the heart muscle from damage while it is stopped. Cold saline irrigation over the heart is also used to protect the heart while it is stopped and is without it's own blood supply. Once the heart is stopped, the defect can be repaired in a bloodless environment. In some cases, the heart can be operated upon while still beating with the patient not being supported on the heart-lung bypass machine (Beating Heart Surgery). However, Open Heart Surgery does not always involve opening the heart itself, it can only involve opening the chest cage. The remainder of the procedure is specific to the exact heart problem being treated e.g. Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting, Atrial Septal Defect, Ventricular Septal Defect, Heart Valve Replacement, etc.
Before your Open Heart Surgery, you will have a complete and through evaluation by physician, cardiac surgeon and anesthesiologist. All the routine pre-operative tests like blood and urine examination, x-ray chest, Electrocardiogram, Echocardiogram, Cardiac Catheterization, and Coronary Angiogram will be performed. Please make sure to inform your doctor about all the prescription and non-prescription medications including vitamin, mineral and herbal supplements that you might be taking. You will be instructed to eat a balanced diet, do some exercises to clear your lungs and quit smoking completely before the Open Heart Surgery. Also, plan on staying in the hospital for 5 days or so and arrange for someone to help you around the house for the next couple of weeks after Open Heart Surgery. Do not eat or drink anything for at least 12 hours before the surgery and get a good night's sleep. You will be instructed to shower both on the evening before as well as the morning of surgery with a special antibacterial soap to prevent infection during and following Open Heart Surgery.
The initial few days following the Open Heart Surgery can be crucial. There will be pain and discomfort which can be relieved by pain medication. Some of the common unpleasant experiences after Open Heart Surgery will be forgetfulness, mood swings, lack of energy, tiring easily, lack of appetite possibly even nausea or constipation, difficulty sleeping through the night or perhaps nightmares or vision changes. Your doctor will provide you a list of specific discharge instructions to follow for the first three weeks at home, after your Open Heart Surgery to help you return to a normal pace of life. Some of the post-operative Open Heart Surgery guidelines will include:
Open Heart Surgery is a fairly common procedure performed on people of all ages. Morbidity and mortality is dependent on the heart defect being repaired by Open Heart Surgery. Corrective surgical procedures for Atrial Septal Defect and Ventricular Septal Defect have a very low mortality rate. Most of the indications for Open Heart Surgery procedure are clear cut however, some complicated defects may require different possible approaches for either correction or palliation of the heart disease.
B . R . A . N . D . of Open Heart Surgery
Keywords: Coronary Heart Disease (CHD), Heart / Lung Transplantation, Coronary Artery Disease (CAD), Heart-lung Bypass, Ischemic Heart Disease (IHD), Valvular Heart Disease, Artificial Heart Valves, Arrhythmia, Stroke, Congestive Heart Failure, Heart Attack, Kidney Failure, Congenital Heart Diseases, Lung Function, Aortic Aneurysm