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Open Heart Surgery - Things You Must Know About It!

Written and reviewed by
MCH DNB (CTVS), Advanced fellowship, MS
Cardiothoracic Vascular Surgery, Delhi  •  21 years experience
Open Heart Surgery - Things You Must Know About It!

Open heart surgery is a complicated heart procedure. Although the number of open heart surgeries performed over the past has decade has reduced significantly, howeevr, it is still an important surgical procedure to fix critical heart ailments.

Here is a quick fact-checker about this procedure:

  • The Coronary Artery Bypass Graft or CABG is one of the frequently performed procedures in the open-heart surgery space. This is a procedure that is related to fixing the blocked arteries of the heart. A study conducted by the National Institutes of Health revealed that most patients who had undergone CABG become angina-free within a span of five years.
  • Many hospitals refuse to share any data related to the surgery. It makes sense to run a background check on the surgeon who is scheduled to perform the procedure. Society of Thoracic Surgery lists all doctors and the number of procedures they have performed in this space.
  • This is one of the few surgeries where a doctor needs to make a deep incision close to 2-2.5 inch through the breastbone to separate muscle and get access to the heart.
  • The patient is hooked to a heart-lung machine before the proceedings begin. This machine pushes blood to the body. It helps the doctor to stop the heart and perform the procedure. Once the procedure is over, the doctor closes the incision made through the breastbone with sternal wires. Then the surgeon gives a minor electric shock to the patient to restart the heart. Subsequently, the patient is taken off from the heart-lung machine.
  • The patient might find himself tangled with many tubes as he wakes for the first time after the surgery. These wires take the fluid out of the body. They serve as a temporary pacemaker for the patient.
  • It is important to get a clarification from the surgeon as to from which location of the body would the veins be taken from to perform CABG. Most doctors prefer the vein from the leg. However, recent studies have shown that veins can be extracted from the internal chest wall. This results in a speedy recovery for the patient.
  • The patient is kept in an ICU for a couple of days before he is shifted to the general ward where he spends close to a couple of weeks before he is released. After the patient gets home, the typical recovery time for the patient is approximately 6-8 weeks.
  • One has to usually deal with heightened emotions after an open-heart surgery. Studies have shown that over 20 percent of the CABG patients suffer from depression, anger, and other emotional problems. This typically lasts for a year till everything becomes normal.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

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