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Cardiac Patient Information
Our goal is to provide continuous, coordinated care, starting with the initial visit and extending through your stay in the hospital to your rehabilitation and discharge. We strive to keep patients and families fully informed and involved in the plan of care. We are always available to address your questions and concerns, a responsibility the cardiac surgeons share with the nurse practitioners.
Understanding Heart Surgery : What you need to know
The term "heart surgery" includes surgery on the heart itself as well as procedures done on a special group of blood vessels called the great blood vessels. The great blood vessels include the aorta (the main artery that carries blood away from your heart), the pulmonary artery (the artery that carries blood from your heart to your lungs) and the coronary arteries (the arteries that cover your heart and supply it with blood).
Traditional Open Heart Surgery
Open heart surgery means that the chest is opened and surgery is performed on either the heart or the valves, arteries or other structures in the heart. The term "open" refers to the chest, not the heart itself. The heart may or may not be opened, depending on the type of surgery. In most cases, your doctor will get to your heart by making an incision (cut) through your breastbone. A special machine called a heart-lung machine (described in another section of this packet) is used to keep your blood pumping through your body during surgery. Types of open heart surgeries include heart valve repair and replacement, coronary bypass, aortic aneurysms and surgeries to repair heart defects that developed at birth (congenital heart defects).
Minimally Invasive Heart Surgery
Certain heart surgeries are done using what is called a minimally invasive approach. This means that your surgery will be done using a small incision (cut) on the right side of your chest instead of the incision described above that goes through your breastbone. The incision will be between 3 and 5 inches long. The exact location depends on the type of surgery you are having. A special machine called a heart-lung machine (described in another section of this packet) is used to keep your blood pumping through your body during surgery. Heart valve repair and replacement, and surgeries to repair heart defects that developed at birth (congenital heart defects) can be done as minimally invasive surgery. It is important to realize that these are the same surgeries that are done when the chest is open. They are just being done through a small incision. Click here to learn more about minimally invasive heart surgery.
The heart-lung machine takes over the function of the heart and lungs for the time during your surgery. Plastic tubes carry blood from the body to the heart‑lung machine. The machine gets the blood to the right temperature, removes the carbon dioxide and adds oxygen just like your lungs would usually do. The machine then pumps the blood back to your body just like your heart would usually do. This machine (also called a bypass machine or pump) allows your heart to stay dry and still during surgery. This means that heart surgery can be performed safely and with very few complications. The machine is removed when your heart and lungs begin working on their own again.
What to bring, who will help you, and what will happen.
Information about what you need to know as you prepare for your surgery
Information about what to expect during your stay at the Hospital
Information about your post-surgical care, including your discharge from the hospital.
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