Open Heart Surgery – Procedure, Risks, and Preparation

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Open heart surgery is the type of surgery in which the chest of the patient is cut open, and the surgery is performed on the arteries, valves, and muscles of the heart. If there are problems with the heart of any person, in such cases, heart surgery is done. Heart surgeries are also quite common in cases of major heart attacks and heart failure.

In this article, we will give you a generalized idea of heart surgeries. Furthermore, you will get to know about the heart surgery procedure and preparation. Apart from that, you will also get to know more about the risks associated with open heart surgeries. Hence, to get fully informed about open heart surgery, read on through to the end of the article.

What Is Open Heart Surgery?

What Is Open Heart Surgery

With the help of open heart surgery, surgeons reach the heart to deal with the problems of the heart. Here, the surgeons open the chest of the heart to get access to the heart. Here, they cut through the sternum of the body, which is also the breastbone, because this is where the heart of the person is situated. It is one of the most reliable ways for a heart surgeon to deal with the problems of the heart.

The medical term for open heart surgery is also called Heart Bypass Surgery. It is also known as Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG). According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, “Depending on your heart problem, your healthcare provider may suggest different types of heart surgery. These can range from minimally invasive surgical options to open-heart surgeries that may require a longer recovery time. Before surgery, your provider may order tests to determine which type of heart surgery will work best for you.”

Open heart surgery is mostly done when the patient is suffering from coronary heart disease. This occurs when the blood vessels in the body, which are responsible for providing blood and oxygen to the heart, become too narrow and hard for blood to pass through. In many cases, this situation is also called the hardening of the arteries.

Procedure To Perform Open Heart Surgery

Procedure To Perform Open Heart Surgery

Mainly, heart surgery needs to be done within a limited time frame. The total procedure, depending upon the complicatedness of the situation, takes from 3 to 6 hours. The following are the major steps of performing a CABG:

1. The patient gets a general anesthetic injection to feel no pain and go to sleep. This helps in performing the whole surgery without worrying about the situation and whether the patient will feel pain or not.

2. The surgeon makes a cut in the chest and through it up to 8 to 10 inches to reach the heart so as to operate.

3. The breastbone of the patient is fully cut so as to fully expose the heart and to operate it properly.

4. Once the patient’s heart is visible to the surgeon performing the open heart surgery, the surgeon connects to the heart of the patient through a bypass machine. The machine helps in moving blood away from the heart, which helps the surgeon to perform the operation. However, in newer open heart surgery procedures, this new machine is not used anymore.

5. To make a new way around the blocked artery of the patient, the surgeon makes use of a healthy vein or an artery.

6. After the job is done, the surgeon closes the breastbone of the patient with the help of a wire, leaves the wire inside it, and then stitches up the cut that is made on the chest of the patient. In many cases, sternal plating is used in people with more chances of risk.

Is Open Heart Surgery Dangerous?

Since the heart is one of the most sensitive areas of the body, it requires proper knowledge and training to perform successful open heart surgery in the right manner. Death of the patient is also one of the major risks of heart surgery.

Heart surgery can also be very much life-threatening for people who are already quite weak before the heart surgery. Furthermore, the danger and risks associated with heart surgery are also high when the complications of the heart surgery are also high, in situations like a heart attack or a heart failure.

What Are The Major Open Heart Surgery Risks?

About the associated open heart surgery risks, this is what the NHLBI claims, “As with any type of surgery involving the heart, there are some risks. The risks are generally higher if surgery is done in an emergency situation (to treat a heart attack, for example) or if you have another health condition such as diabetes or kidney disease.

For many people, the results of heart surgery are excellent. Heart surgery can reduce symptoms, improve quality of life, and improve the chances of survival.”

The following are the major possible risks:

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Chest wound infection
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Kidney failure or lung failure
  • Chest pain
  • Loss of memory
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Blood loss
  • Blood clot
  • Pneumonia, and many more.

How Can You Become A Heart Surgeon?  

How Can You Become A Heart Surgeon

Many people come with the question, “How can I become a cardiologist?” If you want to know how to do heart surgery, you will have to become a licensed and certified cardiologist. Since becoming a cardiologist is one of the most difficult jobs, be it in the United States or anywhere else, you will need to go through an advanced cardiology course.

Summing Up

In this article, you mainly learned about open heart surgery in general, as well as the procedure that cardiologists and surgeons follow in dealing with major heart problems. Hence, you can understand from the article that although there are some risks associated with open heart surgery, it is still effective in saving a person in case of heart problems.

Furthermore, to become a heart surgeon, one needs to go through a long medical education and training, and only then that individual gets the license to perform open heart surgery. Do you know about someone going through open-heart surgery? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

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