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Heart Surgery

Heart Surgery –Conditions and Procedures

By definition, heart surgery is any type of surgical procedure in which the chest is opened and the heart muscle, valves and arteries are involved. Before heart surgery, the doctor recommends and attempts all other possible treatments for the heart disease.

Any person without limitations of age, sex or ethnicity can suffer from cardiac diseases. Performed by cardiac surgeons, heart surgery among others corrects congenital heart diseases and treats valvular heart diseases.

The following conditions require heart surgery:

  • Endocarditis
  • Rheumatic heart disease
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Heart valves repair or replacement
  • Repair of damaged structures
  • Medical devices implant
  • Heart failure
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Abnormal heart rhythms through heart ablation surgery
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Cardiomyopathy

Heart surgery is also done to treat ischemic heart disease complications with coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG).

Heart surgery has high risks of complications nevertheless the success rates are also excellent. Some common risks of heart surgery are:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Irregular heartbeats or arrhythmia
  • Stroke

Heart surgery complication risks can increase if the patient has other diseases, such as:

  • Alcohol or drug addiction
  • Mental illness (which makes a patient unable to take medicines on schedule)
  • Serious artery diseases
  • Disease of brain blood vessels
  • Diabetes
  • Liver or kidney diseases
  • Chronic lung disease
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Active infection 

Heart Surgery Procedures

Surgical cardiac procedures for the heart valves include:

  • Valve repair
  • Valvulotomy
  • Mitral valve repair
  • Valvuloplasty (aortic, mitral)
  • Valve replacement
  • Aortic valve replacement
  • Mitral valve replacement
  • Atrial or Ballon septostomy (enlargement of existing septal defect)
  • Blalock–Hanlon procedure (creation of septal defect in heart)
  • Fontan procedure (atrium to pulmonary artery)
  • Rastelli procedure (left ventricle to aorta)
  • Sano shunt (right ventricle to pulmonary artery)
  • Jateneand and Mustard procedure (for transportation of great vessels)
  • Norwood and Kawashimap rocedure (for univentricular defect)
  • Blalock–Taussig shunt (shunt from blood vessel to blood vessel)
  • Glenn procedure (SVC to the right PA)


Among the heart surgery procedures for cardiac vessels, we find:

  • Angioplasty
  • Bypass/Coronary artery bypass
  • Bare-metal stent
  • Drug-eluting stent
  • Bentall procedure
  • Valve-sparing aortic root replacement

Other heart surgery procedures are:

  • Pericardiocentesis
  • Pericardial window
  • Pericardiectomy
  • Cardiomyoplasty
  • Dor procedure
  • Septal myectomy
  • Ventricular reduction
  • Alcohol septal ablation
  • Maze procedure
  • Catheter ablation (Cryoablation and Radiofrequency ablation)
  • Pacemaker insertion
  • Left atrial appendage occlusion
  • Cardiotomy
  • Heart transplantation

Among the diagnostic procedures and tests for heart surgery, we find:

  • Electrocardiography
  • Holter monitor
  • Implantable loop recorder
  • Cardiac stress test
  • Electrophysiology study
  • Angiocardiography
  • Echocardiography
  • Myocardial perfusion imaging
  • Cardiovascular MRI
  • Ventriculography
  • Cardiac catheterization/Coronary catheterization (Cardiac CT and Cardiac PET)
  • Phonocardiogram

Heart Surgery Description

General anesthesia and intravenous antibiotics are provided to prevent bacterial wound infections.

Some heart surgery procedures require cardiopulmonary bypass, in order to support the functions of the heart and the lungs during the surgical procedure. In those cases the patient is connected on a heart/lung machine. It will pump the blood during the open heart surgery.

The heart surgeon makes a few inches-long cut in the chest wall to divide the muscles and reach the heart. If the procedure is minimally invasive (endoscopic surgery) four small holes are made and special instruments perform the surgery.

For robot-assisted valve surgery, small cuts are made in the chest, and then the surgeon uses the computer to control the arm, which is able to make very precise movements.

Heart Transplant Surgery

Also an open heart surgery procedure, heart transplantation is the replacement of a patient’s heart which is diseased or injured with a healthy one provided by an organ donor.

Criteria for selection obey strict rules due to the scarce supply of healthy donor hearts. Among the non-eligible patients are those who may be too sick to survive surgery or people who suffer from the side-effects of immunosuppressive therapy.

The United Networks for Organ Sharing (UNOS) register and approve all patients for the waiting list of heart transplant surgery centers. UNOS connects the transplant centers and organizations in charge of organ donations. When a donated heart becomes available, the network matches the data of the donor heart and is compared to the data from patients on the lists. Filtering categories include blood type, size of the heart, and urgency.

Depending on the clinic, additional options like transportation, lodgings and complications, the total cost can vary. Heart transplant surgery costs and first year of care are estimated at $250,000.