Heart Surgery


Minimally Invasive Heart Surgeons: How to Choose

Minimally invasive heart surgeons perform procedures that cause less trauma and pain, resulting in quicker recovery times compared to open-heart surgery. These surgeons perform procedures using small incisions in your chest as a safer alternative to open-heart surgery. Rather than having to cut through your breastbone, minimally invasive heart surgeon qualifications allow them to operate between the ribs, resulting in less pain and faster recovery time. In fact, surgeons sometimes have a better view of certain areas of the heart than with open-heart surgery. The vast majority of minimally invasive procedures don’t require the surgeon to stop your heart. How do I know if I’m a good candidate for a minimally invasive heart procedure? Depending on various personal factors, minimally invasive surgery might be the perfect option for you. Other benefits may include: Lower risk of infections Less blood loss Reduced pain and trauma Shorter hospital or clinic stay Smaller and less noticeable scars It’s also very important that your minimally invasive surgeon strives for cohesion and clear, open communication within his team. It’s vital that the team know your specific needs and whether or not minimally invasive surgery is for you. In addition, you want your heart specialists to exhibit those same characteristics with all your other healthcare providers. Other Preparation? Make sure you’ve had a recent physical examination, with a complete review of your medical history and blood analysis. There is a chance you may have to get your procedure done at a medical center. This decision is based on your physicians’ and specialists’ evaluation of your condition. What kind of minimally invasive heart procedures are available?...

Bloodless Heart Surgery Recovery

Heart surgery is one of the most sophisticated and complex types of surgery. It is demanding and requires an excellent team of physicians, assistants, and support personnel. Minimally invasive heart surgery significantly decreases the amount of trauma and damage to the patient and makes for a much easier recovery. What is Bloodless Heart Surgery? Related to advances in heart surgery, bloodless surgery has made great strides since the 1990s. Instead of using transfusions to replace blood lost during surgery, great efforts are made to reduce bleeding during surgery and harmonic scalpels clot blood while cutting tissue. Hemostatics stop bleeding before, during, and after surgery. Bleeding vessels can be sealed by an argon beam coagulator. Also, what blood is lost during the procedure is collected and returned to the patient’s circulatory system. Bloodless surgery avoids complications of transfusion, including disease (negligible risk), depression of immune system function, allergic reaction to additives in stored blood, and inflammatory response. Avoiding transfusions can make for a better recovery after heart surgery. Combining minimal blood loss with minimally invasive heart surgery can give excellent results for recovery, even with elderly or frail patients, who would have been a poor risk with earlier kinds of techniques. Still, the doctor’s skill and experience are important factors in how well the surgery, and the recovery, go. Does This Surgery Cause Scarring? Usually, minimally invasive heart surgery is done with a two-inch incision between the ribs. So, unlike earlier versions of heart surgery, bones do not have to be broken to gain access to the heart. Given time after surgery, the scar can fade to where it is...

Coronary Bypass Surgery: Past, Present, and Future

Although some have described cardiac surgery as a dying specialty, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Cardiac surgery today is seeing astronomical growth with innovations in minimally invasive procedures. Therefore, cardiac surgery is not sliding into obsolescence; it’s simply becoming safer and less invasive. One area of cardiac surgery – coronary artery bypass – has seen significant growth in the past decade. From minimally invasive procedures to hybrid revascularization, coronary bypass surgery is becoming increasingly safer and more effective. It is also becoming far less painful and time-consuming than open-heart coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG). A Bit of History  In the 1950s, the advent of cardiopulmonary bypass was revolutionary for the field of cardiac surgery. The first successful open heart surgery utilizing a heart-lung machine was performed in 1953. The heart-lung machine – also known as a “pump” – allows for the heart to be stopped during surgery, as it circulates and oxygenates blood for the surgeon to work on a still heart that is empty of blood. However, what seemed to be an unending supply of patients contributed to what may have been innovative complacency. In due time, this self-assurance was shattered by the advent of percutaneous coronary intervention (non-surgical procedures that improve cardiac blood flow). These procedures were able to provide the same effects as CABG and greatly reduced the volume of coronary artery bypass surgeries. It also resulted in a decline in trainees in the field. These advances have been largely consumer-driven by a society that’s always on the go, so less invasive procedures mean faster recovery times. Coronary Bypass Surgery Today  While the...

Do You Have to Diet Before or After Heart Surgery?

Heart surgery is one of the most critical types of operations that can be done on the human body, and it is usually only pursued if other, less aggressive treatments have been exhausted. To provide the optimum conditions for a successful procedure, preoperative and postoperative guidelines must be observed. One of those guidelines pertains to the patient’s diet. What to Eat Leading up to Surgery? Simply put, one of the biggest problems complicating heart surgery is obesity. The more overweight a patient is, the more difficult the recovery will be. Diets designed to help prepare a person for heart surgery, then, are often focused on losing weight. Time is of the essence, and the more time before surgery the patient has to focus on this goal, the better. If the patient has at least two weeks before heart surgery, they might benefit from emphasizing fruits, vegetables, low-fat protein, whole grains, and low sodium in their diet to help lose weight and lower blood pressure as much as possible. The total number of calories per day, on average, to consume pre-heart surgery is fairly low, at 1,200 to 1,800. Diet recommendations include more servings of fruits and vegetables than whole grains, proteins, or healthy fats. Restrictions are suggested for sweets, alcohol, and artificial sweeteners. What to Eat After Surgery? As with the pre-surgery diet, what to eat after surgery often leads to a leaner, heart-healthy diet. Recommended is a diet with extra omega 3 fatty acids, folate, vitamin K, magnesium, and unsaturated fats. On the other hand, it is not recommended that saturated and trans fats, high sodium foods, processed...

Common Complications Following Open Heart Surgery

All forms of surgery present degrees of risk, but the complications that can follow open heart surgery pose unique dangers. Surgeons will take every precaution possible to minimize these risks and ensure their open heart surgery success rate remains high, but it’s beneficial to educate yourself on these risks and ask questions. There are numerous factors that determine what you as an individual are at most the risk of experiencing, and many of them relate to your personal health history. Let’s look at some of the most common open heart surgery risks of death and injury. Bleeding The most common complication after open heart surgery is bleeding from the area of the incision or surgery site. During the surgery itself as well as recovery, you will be closely monitored and your progress tracked. Some bleeding after surgery is expected until the blood coagulates again, but if concerns arise if the bleeding lasts for an extended period of time without slowing or if you are bleeding “in” rather than “out.” Blood Loss Too much blood loss following a major procedure like open heart surgery can quickly snowball into a life-threatening situation. This is true even given a surgeon with a great open heart surgery success rate. Anemia can follow blood loss, depriving blood of red cells and hemoglobin, ultimately curtailing delivery of oxygen to body tissue. Traditionally, blood transfusions have been used in response to blood loss, but this isn’t a viable option for everyone. There are certain religious convictions against blood transfusions, and transfusions may weaken the immune system. For patients with concerns about blood transfusions, bloodless heart surgery...

Heart Valve Replacement Survival Rate

Having invasive surgery for a heart valve replacement is sometimes necessary, but it doesn’t have to be. Open heart surgery is a major operation and requires a hospital stay of at least a week, with part of that in the intensive care unit in most cases. Depending on your age, general health, and how severely damaged or faulty your heart valves are, invasive surgery may not be necessary. Although studies have shown that the heart valve replacement surgery survival rate is very high, there are other less invasive treatments for valve repair or replacement, such as minimally invasive aortic valve replacement or minimally invasive mitral valve repair. Minimally Invasive Aortic Valve Replacement Aortic Stenosis (AS) is a heart disease affecting the aortic valve. This valve is responsible for pumping oxygenated blood to all parts of the body. With AS, the aortic valve is too narrow, causing a very high internal pressure due to the heart working extra hard to pump blood through it. This pressure triggers the cardiac muscle to thicken to increase its strength, and eventually tires out and results in a life-threatening condition. The majority of patients with AS, with or without symptoms present, need to have minimally invasive aortic valve replacement to replace the defective valve with a new mechanical or biological heart valve prosthesis. If there has been a diagnosis of severe AS, even if symptoms are not present, patients should be evaluated as soon as possible for surgical intervention. Clinical evidence shows that delaying surgery is dangerous. Severe symptomatic aortic valve stenosis is a lethal condition that requires effective aortic valve replacement. No other...