Open Heart Surgery

What to Expect When You’re Having Open Heart Surgery

According to the Ministry of Health, even though stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in Singapore, it is also the disease with the highest improvement in survival due to tried and tested medical procedures such as open heart surgery. 

When is open heart surgery necessary? 

If you have coronary heart disease, you may need to undergo open heart surgery. The disease is caused by  hardening of the arteries due to fatty materials. Blood vessels that deliver oxygen and blood to the heart muscles become hard and narrow. Coronary heart disease needs to be addressed as soon as possible because this may lead to a heart attack in the long run. Open heart surgery can be carried out to achieve the following: 

  • Replace or repair heart valves
  • Reconstruct abnormal or damaged regions of the heart 
  • Implant medical devices that allow the heart to beat efficiently
  • Transplant a heart

How is open heart surgery performed? 

An open heart surgery takes a maximum of 6 hours. And it is performed with strict and rigorous standards of quality as well as accountability. It usually includes the following steps

  • First, you are given general anesthesia to ensure that you are asleep and do not feel any pain throughout the procedure. 
  • The surgeon will make an 8 to 10-inch cut in the chest to expose the heart. 
  • As soon as the heart becomes visible, he/she will connect your heart to a heart-lung bypass machine. This is essential because it allows the surgeon to perform the operation by moving blood away from the heart. 
  • The surgeon will utilize a healthy artery or vein to make a new path within the region of the blocked artery. Afterwards, he/she will close the breastbone with a specialized wire and leave it inside the body. 
  • In some cases, sternal plating (attaching titanium plates to the sternum) is performed for high-risk patients. This is to reduce the risk of infection and make breathing more efficient. 

What are the risks of open heart surgery?

Like any other medical procedure, an open heart surgery comes with risks. But these risks can be prevented if an experienced, knowledgeable, and skilled surgeon is performing the surgery. The common risks are as follows: 

  • Irregular heart rate 
  • Stroke or heart attack 
  • Kidney failure 
  • Lung failure 
  • Chest pain 
  • Fever
  • Breathing difficulty 
  • Blood clot 
  • Pneumonia

Summing up

All in all, an open heart surgery is a safe and beneficial surgery that is critical to your health, especially if you have heart failure and other related conditions. It should be noted that not all professionals who perform the said surgical procedure have equal skills and experience. And for this reason, it is best to practise due diligence and compare service providers out there before undergoing your open heart surgery.