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Open-heart Surgery - What You Need to Know?

By Dr. Dinesh Chandra in Cardiac Surgery (CTVS)

Dec 14 , 2023 | 4 min read

Open-heart surgery is one of the most significant life-saving surgeries performed today for an array of heart conditions. With the advent of modern technology, it has a usual risk of 1% to 5%, which is as good as any other surgery performed today. In this type of surgery, heart surgeons make an incision to access the inside of the chest of the patient, and perform surgery on the heart’s internal structures.

Thanks to the introduction of technologically advanced heart surgery techniques, some methods have evolved, such as beating heart surgery, minimally invasive heart surgery (MICS) or robotic heart surgery, where incisions are substantially smaller, less traumatic, and cosmetically better.

Read more - Do You Know About Beating Heart Bypass Surgery?

People experiencing severe heart conditions such as heart failure and heart attack are often recommended open-heart surgery from a reputed hospital.

What is Open-Heart Surgery?

Open-heart surgery is a surgical procedure that allows heart surgeons to access the heart and treat severe heart conditions, such as a heart attack. During the surgery, the heart surgeon creates a new pathway for blood flow around the blocked or partially blocked coronary arteries in the heart. This procedure effectively reduces the risk of stroke, heart injuries, heart rhythm problems, and the risk of (sudden) death.

When is Open-Heart Surgery Needed?

Open-heart surgery is typically recommended when patients experience coronary artery disease, which predicts heart attack. However, there are also some other conditions where a heart surgery is required, including:

What is the Most Common Type of Open-Heart Surgery?

Depending on the heart disease, there are different types of open-heart surgeries. Some common ones include:

  • Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting: It is the most common type of heart surgery and is performed to provide alternate routes of blood supply to the heart. The healthy artery is usually taken from the chest, arms, or legs.
  • Heart Valve Repair or Replacement: The surgery is performed to either repair the valve or replace it with a biological valve or metallic valve.
  • Heart Transplant: The surgery aims to treat advanced heart failure by replacing the damaged heart with a healthy heart from a deceased donor.

Read more - What is Heart Bypass Surgery?

How to Prepare for Open-Heart Surgery?

The first and foremost thing is to discuss your doubts and plan the surgery with an experienced heart surgeon. However, this step may not be possible in cases where immediate heart surgery is needed. For example, if a person has been diagnosed with heart attack symptoms due to blocked coronary arteries, surgeons will perform heart bypass surgery immediately to save their life.

Patients need to follow certain guidelines to increase the success of the open-heart surgery, including eating a balanced diet, quitting smoking, and exercising regularly. The heart surgeon will also arrange several lab tests before the open-heart surgery, including blood tests, chest X-ray, and EKG (electrocardiogram) to evaluate the patient's heart health. Immediately before the surgery, the skin of the patient is also sterilised to reduce the risk of any infection. The surgery is performed with general anaesthesia, and the patient is kept in the ICU for 1–2 days before being shifted to the nursing ward.

What Happens During Open-heart Surgery?

Traditional open-heart surgery involves a 6 to 8-inch cut in the middle of the chest through the breastbone using a surgical blade. Once the heart is visible, the surgeons begin the surgery to repair the heart. In case of a coronary artery bypass surgery, the surgeons provide alternate routes of blood supply via conduits (vessels) harvested using microscopic surgical instruments. Occasionally, in complex and difficult cases, surgeons use a heart-lung bypass machine during the surgery. This machine temporarily takes over the functions of the heart during the procedure.

At the final stage, surgeons use wire sutures to close the breastbone and other incisions. The skin incision is then stitched carefully. The surgery usually takes around 3 to 6 hours, depending on the complexity.

What are the Potential Risks of Open-heart Surgery?

Similar to all other surgical procedures, open-heart surgery also carries certain complications, including arrhythmia, stroke, damage to surrounding blood vessels or organs, bleeding from the sutured area, and infections around the sutures. The risks of these complications are higher in patients with underlying health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, and chronic pulmonary disease (COPD). Additionally, individuals who engage in chain smoking also have a higher likelihood of experiencing operative and post-operative complications.

What to Expect After Open-heart Surgery?

Open-heart surgery is a major procedure and hence requires close and careful monitoring post-operation. The patient is typically moved to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for proper care. The overall recovery may take a few weeks. During the recovery period, the patient needs to follow the instructions given by the medical team and take the prescribed medicines regularly. In several cases, the doctors also recommend patients to participate in cardiac rehabilitation for a better and faster recovery.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor about Open-Heart Surgery

Some important questions you may ask your surgeon about open-heart surgery include:

  • Are there any alternatives to open-heart surgery?
  • How much does open surgery typically cost?
  • What is the success rate of open-heart surgery?
  • Will a blood transfusion be required during the surgery?
  • How long does the recovery from open surgery typically take?
  • When can one resume normal activities?

Consult with the Best Cardiac Surgeon in Delhi

Open-heart surgery not only treats life-threatening conditions but also restores the overall health of the patient. To ensure a successful surgery, one should always look for the best heart bypass surgery hospital. We, at Max Healthcare, are where your search for the best heart surgeons in Delhi ends. With our cutting-edge technology and an esteemed team of heart surgeons, we strive to offer the best treatment to our patients. Today, with advanced technology, we can provide not only a prolonged life but also an active and healthy lifestyle.