Tests to Determine Need for Open Heart Surgery
Helps your doctor determine the pressure on the heart and the blood vessels feeding it. The catheterization requires a small tube to be inserted through the artery in the groin and passed through to the heart. An injection of dye allows your doctor to see the pattern of blood flow to and through your heart and determine if there are blockages.
The ultrasound test uses a wand that emits high-frequency sound waves to painlessly show how well blood is flowing through the arteries.
An echocardiogram (ECHO), also known as a cardiac ultrasound, uses sound waves to create pictures of the heart.
An electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) is used to determine the rate and regularity of your heartbeat. The ECG is administered by attaching wires to your body. The wires detect electrical signals from the heart, which are recorded on a machine for the doctor’s review.
Open Heart Surgery Procedures
Aortic Valve Repair/Replacement
The aortic valve lies between the left lower chamber of the heart (the ventricle), and the aorta, the largest artery in the body. The valves of your heart open and close tightly to ensure that blood flows in only one direction and does not leak backward.
The aortic valve may not function properly due to:
- Narrowing (stenosis) caused by calcium deposits on the leaflets (the parts that open) of the valves
- Incomplete closure (prolapse)
If the aortic valve malfunction seriously restricts the flow of blood to your heart, your surgeon may decide to repair or replace it with open heart surgery.
Mitral Valve Repair/Replacement
The mitral valve lies between the heart’s left upper chamber (atrium), and left ventricle. As with the aortic valve, the mitral valve may malfunction, causing leakages that diminish blood flow from the ventricles of the heart to the rest of the body.
If the mitral valve malfunction seriously affects the flow of blood away from your heart, your surgeon may decide to repair or replace it with open heart surgery. In the vast majority of cases, your mitral valve can be repaired.
Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery
Coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG) may be performed if the arteries bringing blood to your heart (the coronaries) become so thick and hard with fatty deposits called plaque that blood flow is blocked. The blockage creates a risk of heart attack and death. CABG surgery involves grafting a healthy blood vessel to the heart to reroute the blood around the blockage.
Transmyocardial revascularization (TMR) is used to relieve severe chest pain caused by constriction of the arteries (angina) for patients who are not candidates for CABG. Sometimes, TMR is performed along with a CABG.
Your surgeon performs TMR by opening the left side of the chest, exposing the heart and then using lasers to drill small holes in the outside of the heart. The drilling creates channels in the left ventricle. These channels may help to improve blood flow, thus easing the angina. TMR may also help to stimulate the growth of new capillaries (small blood vessels) that supply blood to the heart.
Heart Transplant Surgery
Heart transplantation is available for patients whose cardiac disease is too severe to be treated with medicine or surgery and whose life expectancy is less than one year.
If you suffer from an irregular heartbeat, your doctor may perform a surgical operation called a MAZE procedure to correct it.
The irregular heartbeat, called atrial fibrillation, occurs when the electrical signals that cause the heart to contract occur irregularly or intermittently. As a result, the flow of blood from the atrium to the ventricle is disrupted.
During the MAZE procedure, your surgeon will make incisions in the atrium, and then sew them together again. The scar tissue from the incisions blocks the irregular signal and forces it to travel directly from the atrium to the ventricle.
The Ross procedure replaces your diseased or damaged aortic valve with your own healthy pulmonary valve from the left side of your heart. Your surgeon then replaces the pulmonary valve with one from a cadaver.
Surgical Aneurysm Repair
You may need surgery to repair a life-threatening aneurysm. such as one in the aorta, the main artery of your body. Your surgeon will make incisions at the site of the aneurysm, clamp the artery and remove blood clots and plaque from the aneurysm. Very often your surgeon will then sew a graft to the artery above and below the aneurysm, allowing the blood to bypass the aneurysm.