Open heart surgery can be defined as any surgery that involves opening of the chest and heart to perform surgery on its internal structures. It is sometimes known as the traditional heart surgery. According to the U S National Library of Medicine, the full open-heart surgery involves a five to eight-inch incision on the chest wall. Today, there are other heart surgeries that are performed with a small cut, using endoscopic tools and camera. Open-heart surgery is performed on the heart’s valves, muscles or arteries. The most common heart surgery performed on adults is the coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG), where a healthy vein or artery is attached to the coronary artery that is blocked to bypass the block in the heart. (ALSO READ: Dengue fever symptoms: Symptoms, causes, treatment and everything you need to know about Dengue fever). Also Read - Heartwarming! Chennai Cops Arrange Rs 5 Lakh For a Five-Year-Old Girl's Open Heart Surgery

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Open-heart surgery is required to repair a damaged part of the heart or to prevent further damage. It is done to treat several heart conditions like abnormal heart rhythms and coronary heart disease. In coronary heart disease, the blood vessels that carry blood and oxygen to the heart become hard and narrow. Hardening of the blood vessels happens due to the formation of a plaque of fatty material on the walls of the arteries.  The arteries become narrow due to the plaque formation and it becomes difficult for blood to pass through. This may lead to a heart attack. The surgery is also performed to place a medical device in the heart to aid in the beating of the heart. It is also performed to replace or repair the valves in the heart, to implant a medical device or to repair the abnormal or damaged parts of the heart. Heart transplant, which involves replacing the heart with a donor’s heart, is performed when the heart is damaged. Also Read - Sushma Swaraj Grants Visa to 7-year-old Pakistani Girl For Open Heart Surgery in India

Medical evaluation of the condition

Several tests are conducted to get every detail about the condition of the heart and your general health to decide whether a heart surgery is required and what type of surgery is required. EKG (Electrocardiogram), Coronary Angiography, Echocardiography, Stress Test, chest X-ray, Aortogram, Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging are some of the tests conducted to determine the problem. Your doctor will discuss with you about the type of heart condition, symptoms, family history, past treatments and general health. Your doctor and a specialist will work together to decide about the surgery.  They will discuss everything about the condition and surgery with you and help you to take a decision about the surgery. (ALSO READ: What is arthritis: Cause, symptoms and treatments of arthritis).

How a heart surgery is performed?

General anesthesia is given to the patient before the start of the surgery. There are several types of cardiac surgeries and one of them involves the surgeon making an 8 to 10 inches long incision in the chest to expose the heart. The heart is stopped temporarily and a heart-lung machine is attached to the patient, which does the work of the heart by pumping oxygenated blood into the body so that the surgeon can perform the surgery. After the procedure is done, the incision is stitched up.

A new type of heart surgery does not require an eight-inch cut. It can be done with a small cut using a camera and endoscopic tool. In 1990 surgeons started to do surgeries without using the cardiopulmonary bypass or the heart-lung machine. The heart continues to beat during the surgery and instead of stopping the heart, it is stabilized for the surgery. Another popular type of heart surgery is the robot-assisted heart surgery. The surgery is performed by a machine, which is controlled by a surgeon. As the robot has a much smaller hand, three small holes are required for the surgery instead of a big incision. (ALSO SEE Yoga in UNESCO’s list of intangible cultural heritage: 7 amazing health benefits of Yoga).

What to expect after the surgery?

Taking care of the patient is the most important part of the recovery. The incision site should be kept clean and dry. Keep it infection free by washing your hands before and after touching it. Utmost care should be taken if you plan to take a shower. Your shower should not extend more than 10 minutes and warm water should be used for the shower. Always check the site of incision for any sign of infection like redness, warmth, oozing from the site etc.

You may experience pain in the chest region, at the incision site, throat pain or muscle pain. Discuss with your doctor about pain management. Pain medication will be prescribed by your doctor to you. It is essential to follow the prescribed medication. You also need to relax and get enough sleep.