Advanced Heart Surgery


A Deep Dive into Aortic Valve Replacement

A normal functioning aortic valve has three leaflets, usually referred to as cusps, and is positioned at the end of the left ventricle. This valve is the main pump that delivers oxygenated blood to the entire body. An aortic valve replacement is required if someone suffers from Aortic Valve Stenosis or Aortic Valve Insufficiency. These two issues can cause a significant number of problems and can be life threatening. Understanding the components that are involved in an aortic valve replacement is important, especially if you are considering one. When to Consider Aortic Valve Replacement As already mentioned, there are two reasons as to why someone would need an aortic valve replacement. When suffering from aortic stenosis, the valve is narrow, causing it to be harder for the blood to go through. Basically, the muscle in the heart begins to thicken, causing a hissing sound, which is oftentimes confused with a murmur. With aortic valve insufficiency, the valve tends to “leak” when it is closed. This make the heart work twice as hard to make the blood flow correctly and into the right direction. To repair this, doctors have created a minimally invasive technique that is much safer and easier on patients.   What to Consider Aortic Valve Replacement Since the breastbone is not being cut into, this replacement procedure is called transcatheter aortic valve replacement, which allows for healing to begin and end much faster. Your doctor will make a small, approximately two inch, incision between the third and fourth rib bone on the right side of the body. From this point, your doctor can securely place the new...

The Emotional Side Effects of Open-Heart Surgery

Open heart surgery is one of the most invasive and stressful procedures doctors perform. To expose the heart for major repairs, a long incision in the chest is made, the breast bone is broken, and a heart-lung machine is used to pump blood in place of the heart. All of this places great stress on your body. Open heart surgery is not minimally invasive heart surgery. Living with, and through, the physical effects of open-heart surgery can be daunting. Included are pain at the incision site, muscle pain, or throat pain. If you have chest tubes for drainage, those can also be uncomfortable. Despite the discomfort, post-surgical pain usually disappears after 6 – 8 weeks. However, other kinds of problems can linger? The emotional side effects of open-heart surgery might surprise you.   Personality and Emotional Changes People who have had open heart surgery report mood changes, as do people close to them. Anxiety and depression are the most commonly experienced emotions after heart surgery. Anxiety can be caused, in part, by worries about possible physical aftereffects of the surgery. Keep in mind that full recovery from open heart surgery can take up to one year. Patients who experience depression for more than several weeks after open-heart surgery may have something more than a typical, post-surgical mood change. One way to tell is if a person has difficulty in doing simple, daily tasks, like making their bed, getting and staying properly dressed, or keeping a routine. If an individual was instructed to do certain tasks after the surgery such as exercise, are they doing them? Has the person withdrawn...

Inoperable Diagnosis? Get a Second Opinion

Inoperable Diagnosis? Get a Second Opinion Many patients come to us for a second opinion after receiving an inoperable diagnosis. Inoperable heart surgery may be made possible by new and advanced techniques. Don’t hesitate to seek a second opinion. Dr. Ciuffo may be able to help when other doctors have decided the risks are too high. Inoperable Heart Surgery Many patients are diagnosed as high risk because of factors like age, frailty, or other diseases. Some patients with factors prohibiting heart surgery can receive successful life-saving procedures with minimally invasive techniques. High-risk patients should seek a second opinion on their inoperable heart surgery diagnosis. It’s impossible to say whether minimally invasive surgery is an option for you without a full examination and diagnosis, but the chances are good that minimally invasive techniques can help you or a loved one.   Inoperable Diagnosis An inoperable diagnosis is often based on the doctor’s opinion of the patient’s ability to handle the shock of traditional heart surgery. Traditional surgery often results in broken ribs and massive incisions that take weeks or months to completely heal. With the shock of the invasion of the body, combined with the risks of infection, traditional heart surgery is extremely difficult for even healthy patients. If age, other diseases, or frailty are factored in, it may seem like an inoperable diagnosis is sound. However, with minimally invasive techniques, the risks are significantly reduced. Second Opinion Don’t be afraid to question the doctor who has given you a diagnosis. Ask why the cardiologist believes the diagnosis is “inoperable,” and have them write down their answers. Ask what the...

Heart Surgery Scars

Heart Surgery Scars Heart surgery scars are a painful reminder of a long healing process following the trauma of open heart surgery. A sternotomy scar is often large and may remain tender long after the surgery. Surgery is, by nature, an invasive trauma to the body. Scars are the result of the body’s efforts to repair the damage. Why Don’t Scars Go Away? When the dermis, or skin, is damaged, the body does its best to repair the damage. Since the dermis is the first line of defense against invading germs and bacteria, it must be repaired as quickly and efficiently as possible. Therefore, rather than take the time to regrow normal skin, the body resorts to producing large amounts of collagen, a thick, fibrous tissue, producing a scar and protecting the body from invading bacteria. Do the Scars From Open Heart Surgery Go Away? While scars fade over time, a sternotomy scar will never fade entirely. The damage to the dermis and underlying tissue is far too extensive for the body to heal entirely. The scar may remain tender and “tight” for years following the surgery and will never go away. There are steps the patient can take to reduce scarring and help the body heal following surgery, but the open heart surgery scar will always remain. Can You Replace Scar Tissue with Normal Tissue? It is not possible to replace scar tissue. Producing scar tissue and healing the incisions from invasive surgery takes all of the body’s resources. Once the wound is sealed and the body protected from foreign bodies and bacteria, the scar is permanent. It...

Is a Bypass Open Heart Surgery

  Let’s talk about open heart surgery.  Many people worldwide have some concerns and health issues surrounding the areas of their heart. Whether it is high blood pressure or blocked arteries, there are very many different types of procedures that people can undergo in order to relieve pain, to ensure that blood is flowing properly to the heart, or relieve stress off of areas that shouldn’t be working as hard as possible. If you have gone to your doctor and they mentioned that you will have to go through bypass surgery, there may be some questions that arise – which is completely normal! Is it Open Heart Surgery? No, it’s not like open heart surgery that people think of when the whole chest cavity has to be opened in order to assess and fix the problems areas. Bypass surgery is honestly, just what it sounds like. An incision will be made in the chest region and you will be hooked up to machine whilst your heart is stopped. The bypass procedure will be conducted and then blood flow will start again. Oftentimes there are arteries that are blocked that are disrupting proper blood flow to the heart. Bypass surgery is generally used in those patients that suffer from heart disease (specifically when the coronary arteries are blocked.) The bypass surgery is like a detour for the blood to travel to ensure your heart is obtaining the blood that it needs to. Open Heart Surgery Substitutions There are such procedures called bypass grafts which will utilize properly functioning blood vessels from a different part of the body. These are removed...

Minimally Invasive Heart Bypass Surgery

A coronary bypass surgery is necessary when patients have one or both of their coronary arteries blocked. When the arteries are blocked, it means that your heart is not getting enough blood. This affects the rest of your body because your heart is no longer efficient. You may feel tired or have chest pain, or you may have no symptoms at all. Regular check ups can help identify if you or a loved one is suffering from heart disease. If you’re past the point of prevention, surgery may be right for you. There are different options for blocked arteries, including stents or surgery. We believe that stents are not a permanent solution, and recommend going with the permanent fix. We understand the need for research and second opinions. Minimally invasive heart bypass surgery is a great option for many patients, especially old, frail, or otherwise high risk patients. Why Coronary Heart Bypass Surgery? In minimally invasive surgery, Dr. Ciuffo makes a tiny 2″ incision in your side and performs the surgery using specialty tools. We are now able to perform a coronary artery bypass while the heart is beating, with no need for a heart lung machine. In expert hands, this technique allows excellent results and a shorter, less complicated postoperative course. Without the heart lung machine, surgery is much less invasive and simply better for patients. Clinical studies are beginning to show that this technique is associated to much less bleeding and very few patients require transfusions. It is better tolerated by the lungs and kidneys, which is a great advantage in patients with emphysema and/or renal insufficiency. It might also...