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Open heart surgery, a risky procedure

An open heart procedure, or open heart operation, is a surgical procedure which, as the name suggests, involves opening one of the patient’s heart chambers. It is one of the heaviest surgeries surgically, and one of the riskiest because of the way it is performed.

What are the indications for an open heart procedure?

Open-heart surgery is indicated for all people who have a heart problem and for whom surgery is the only possible treatment. This is particularly the case when it is necessary to repair or change a heart valve, during coronary bypass surgery, during aortic surgery or even during any other type of heart surgery. Open-heart surgery is only offered to patients when medical teams believe that the surgical risk associated with the procedure is lower than that of doing nothing or letting the medical treatment work.

How is the operation going?

To be performed, an open heart procedure first requires evacuating the blood contained in the heart with the help of open heart surgical instrument set. To do this, medical teams stop blood flow by blocking the two vena cavae (the veins responsible for bringing blood to the heart). To compensate for the lack of oxygenation of the body by normal blood circulation, the patient is then placed in hypothermia or else connected to a pump which helps maintain blood circulation artificially. Surgeons can finally perform open-heart surgery. Depending on the procedure performed, open heart surgery can last less than 3 hours or more than 8 hours.

Is it painful?

The open-heart procedure is performed under general anesthesia. Asleep, the patient therefore feels no pain during the operation. When he wakes up, he may have chest pain from the opening of the breastbone. These pains are more or less severe depending on the patient. Appropriate medical treatment (analgesics, infusions, analgesics, opiates, etc.) is prescribed to the patient. Typically, a patient who undergoes open heart surgery is hospitalized for several days in intensive surgical care.

What are the complications of an open heart procedure?

Any open-heart procedure presents numerous and significant risks of complications, including:

– Ventricular dysfunction;

– A myocardial infarction;

– Hypotension;

– Tamponade;

– Arrhythmias;

– Haematological problems;

– Pulmonary complications;

– Neurological complications;

– Infectious and metabolic complications and many more.

To these complications of open heart surgery should be added those related to the patient’s general health and those related to general anesthesia.

What are the postoperative consequences of an open heart procedure?

Postoperative recovery after open heart surgery lasts for several months. It includes a first part in the intensive care unit of the health establishment, then in a specialized unit before returning home. Any patient who has undergone open heart surgery benefits from regular monitoring. He was prescribed appropriate medical treatment (including anticoagulants) as well as cardiac rehabilitation. Depending on the results of a stress test, the patient may be allowed to resume moderate physical activity.


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