Open-Heart Surgery

No two hearts are alike, so your treatment shouldn’t be either.

Whether you need coronary artery bypass surgery or surgery to repair a damaged heart valve, you need a doctor who understands your condition and has the tools and expertise to find the problem and recommend a treatment or procedure.

Experience and Excellence

Our Palm Beach Health Network heart specialists have performed thousands of open-heart surgeries. Heart Care of Palm Beach is ranked among the best places in the nation for heart attack, heart failure and surgical care.

We’ll stay with you from the day you’re admitted through your recovery to put your heart on a new path for the future.

Open-Heart Surgery

Open-heart surgery is any type of surgery that requires a surgeon to open the chest and operate on the heart muscle, valves, arteries or the aorta and other large arteries connected to the heart. During some open-heart surgeries, the heart is connected to a heart-lung bypass machine or bypass pump. The heart is in a state of controlled arrest, while connected to the bypass machine. The bypass pump does the work of the heart and lungs by adding oxygen to the blood. It then circulates the blood to other organs in the body while removing carbon dioxide.

Palm Beach Health Network’s open-heart surgery program includes an experienced team of cardiovascular experts, including cardiovascular surgeons, cardiologists, cardiac nurses, nurse practitioners and highly-skilled surgical technicians. We perform off-pump coronary artery bypass, graft surgery and more such as the following:

  • Aortic Root Replacement
  • Aortic Surgery
  • Atrial Myxoma Resection
  • Atrial Septal Defect Repair
  • Carotid Endarterectomy
  • Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery
  • Foramen Ovale Repair
  • Heart Valve Repair/Replacement Surgery
  • Minimally Invasive Aortic Valve Replacement
  • Minimally Invasive Mitral Valve Repair or Replacement
  • Off-Pump Procedure Bypass
  • Pacemaker Lead Extraction
  • Pericardiectomy
  • Repair Aortic Aneurysm/Dissection (Ascending and Descending)
  • Repair Ventricular Aneurysm
  • Robotic Thoracic Surgery
  • Thoracic Endoscopy
  • Thoracic Surgery
  • Thoracotomy
  • Valve Repair/Replacement
  • Vascular Surgery
  • Ventricular Septal Defect Repair
  • Video-Assisted Thoracic Surgery

Common Types of Open-Heart Surgery

The following are the most common types of open-heart surgery:

  • Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting: Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG, pronounced as “cabbage”) is the most common type of heart surgery used to treat people who have severe coronary heart disease, a condition when plaque builds up inside the coronary arteries that supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart. During surgery, the surgeon takes a healthy artery or vein from other parts of the body and grafts it to the blocked coronary artery. The grafted arteries reroute the blood around the blocked portion of the artery to supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle. This procedure improves the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart, relieves chest pain, reduces the risk of heart attack and improves the patient’s ability for physical activity that has been limited by certain heart conditions.
  • Heart Valve Repair or Replacement: Healthy heart valves allow blood to precisely flow between different chambers and out of the heart into large arteries. Each valve has a set of flaps called leaflets. Surgery is performed when these leaflets do not open as wide as they should or if they do not close tightly. To fix these problems, surgeons either perform valve repair or replacement using a man-made or biological valve. These biological valves are made from pig, cow or human heart tissues.
  • Corrective Surgery for Heart Defect Present at Birth: Congenital heart defects (CHD) are the most common types of birth defect. Babies born with one or more heart defects have CHD. CHDs can affect the structure of a baby’s heart, the way it works and how blood flows through the heart and out to the rest of the body. Corrective surgery may fix or treat a heart defect that a child is born with. The number of surgeries to repair the heart or blood vessels depend on the type and severity of the defect.

Minimally Invasive Heart Surgery

Potential Benefits Compared to Traditional Open Heart Surgery:

  • Smaller incision
  • Smaller scar
  • Less pain
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Faster return to work and activities

Talk to your physician to determine if you are a candidate for minimally invasive heart surgery.

How Do You Prepare for Open-Heart Surgery?

Your healthcare provider will provide detailed instructions. Typical information to help you prepare for surgery includes:

  • Eating your evening meal the day before your surgery but make sure to not consume any food or drink after midnight
  • Having all personal information on hand such as your list of medications (including over-the-counter medications, vitamins and herbs), recent illness (including herpes outbreak, cold, flu or fever) and insurance information
  • Taking a bath the night before the surgery. Your doctor may ask you to use an antibacterial soap to help lower the risk of an infection after surgery
  • Avoiding smoking and not taking blood-thinning medications (aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen) two weeks before surgery
  • Informing your doctor about your typical alcohol consumption to prevent alcohol withdrawal that may cause life-threatening complications after open-heart surgery such as seizures and tremors

Recovery and Pain Management

Taking care of yourself is an important part of the recovery process. Make sure to regularly check your incisions and report signs of infection to your doctor, such as oozing, redness, warmth along the incision site or if you develop fever. Take your prescriptions as recommended to manage pain and to decrease the likelihood of blood clots or pneumonia and get enough sleep. 

Recovery may take up to six months before you notice the full benefit of the surgery but grafts can work for many years. Your doctor may recommend a specific cardiac rehabilitation program that can offer specialist support and help with other aspects of your recovery.

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