Open heart surgery is a type of surgery that can be defined with ease but is very complex once one opens it up. Open heart surgery is what it sounds like; a surgery that is performed when the heart is exposed to open air and surgery is performed on the areas around and on the heart. However, in order to do this, blood must be properly supplied to the entire body while the heart is cut off from the arteries and veins, and the solution contemporary biomedical engineers and surgeons agreed to was to implement a machine that pumped blood properly in place of the heart. Even with the help of all these technologies, an open heart surgery is still a major surgery. The majority of the time an open heart surgery is performed, it is done on infants and young children in order to fix the problems they were born with. However, an open heart surgery is still performed on adults if they have problems with their heart valves, blocked arteries, or bulging spots in the main vessels. Even then there are many different causes that necessitate an open heart surgery.

When going through an open heart surgery, the most common cause is usually a buildup of plaque in the various arteries or a narrowing of the coronary artery. In order to fix this, a coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) is done, meaning that the coronary artery is isolated from the rest of the circulatory system in order to fix it. One thing that I can take away from a coronary artery bypass is the one technique that cardiac surgeons perform to fix the majority of bypasses, including the coronary artery bypass, known as the graft. In this technique, the surgeon will take an artery from another part of the body, usually the chest or leg, and then use it in the place of the original artery. The vein that is grafted must almost perfectly, if not perfectly, fit the size of the spot of the original coronary artery and must then be properly and firmly be sutured in the place where the original vessel was found, letting the blood flow back into the artery and then to the heat. After the bypass is finished, the surgeon and his assistants will properly close the chest and- if the artery was from another part of the body- the area the artery was grafted from.

Another thing that I learned about open heart surgery is the time and preparation that is put into setting it up, as well as the often unnoticed yet crucial care that is given post surgery. A total of 7 to 10 days are spent on every part of an open heart surgery from preparation to post-surgery treatment. There are many things gone into preparing for a heart surgery. If you go into an operating room, the first thing you would notice is the operating table and the machines surrounding it. However, if you look around more, there are all different kinds of tools, pieces of equipment, and people being supplied to make sure the operation proceeds without a hitch. These operating tools are completely sterilized by the supporting hospital workers in order to prevent contamination of the operation site and the equipment is also packaged and sterilized to prevent the spread of microorganisms. Further beyond that is the preparation of the various medications that the patient can and cannot take. Not only that but preparation for the patient himself is equally as important. Prior to an operation, a patient is restricted from eating and is given a shower with antibacterial soap, and is told to wear comfortable and loose clothing in order to make the operation as easy as possible for the surgeons and his assistants. For the most common open heart surgery, the coronary artery bypass, the operation will last about 3 to 6 hours, a small fraction of the time put into preparing the operation.

Right after the surgery ends, the patient is placed in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and is expected to stay there until he recovers. Afterward, if the patient is fit enough to leave, he is allowed exit, but a patient who cannot leave is moved to a floor in which nurses take care of patients over a somewhat longer period of time, somewhere between 4 to 6 weeks. As a member of Health Science 2, I have seen the people after their surgeries many times. They are expected to keep up a healthy diet, maintain proper vital signs, and perform physical rehabilitation to return become fit enough to be dismissed by the hospital.

From this article, I have learned about the intricate details and supporting efforts that go into an open heart surgery. I have learned that the main technique used in operations that require the replacement of an artery, such as a coronary artery bypass, is known as grafting. In short, an artery from another part of the body is taken and replaces the original artery that has problems. However, the main thing I can take away from this article is the effort required to set up such an intricate operation, as well as the effort that is put in to take care of the patient post operation. In the end, while surgery may not be possible without the surgeons and anesthesiologists, it also requires the combined efforts of the staff to be performed without a single complication.33

MacGill, Markus and Markus MacGill. “Open Heart Surgery: What To Expect”. Medical News Today. N. p., 2016. Web. 16 Sept. 2016.


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