Coronary artery bypass and valve replacement are the most common heart surgeries. Other heart surgeries are performed to treat: aortic abnormalities, aneurysms and congenital heart disease. These procedures are named open-heart surgeries, because the patient is connected to the mechanical extracorporeal circulation. This machine replaces the function of the heart as a pump and adds oxygen to the lungs during surgery when the heart is paused. The blood goes from the heart to the machine, where is purified, oxygenated, and pumped back into the body. When the surgery is complete, the heart gradually takes over its job to pump blood to the body.
Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG)
The coronary arteries surround the heart muscle and they supply it with blood and oxygen. The bypass is made to improve the blood supply to the coronary arteries.
When the arteries are blocked, the heart is not fed properly. The result is angina or heart attack. During surgery, bypass can be done with a part of the vein of the leg (saphenous vein) or with an artery from the thorax (internal mammary artery). After surgery, the blood circulates around the blocked area and feeds back the heart muscle with blood and oxygen. If a vein is used from your leg, this will not prevent the bloodstream or walking ability, because this is a work done by collateral circulation.
There are four valves in the heart to regulate blood flow. They allow blood to pass through and out of the chambers of the heart, each time the heart beats. A damaged valve can be replaced or repaired. Normal valves allow blood to pass smoothly through the heart.
These damaged or non working valves may require replacement due to congenital abnormality, rheumatic fever or infection. Aortic and mitral valves are those showing abnormalities more frequently. When the valves do not open and close properly, the heart has to work more intensely to supply the body with blood. This can weaken the heart and cause pain, shortness of breath, dizziness or other symptoms. When medication can not fix these problems, surgery is required.
If the valve must be replaced, your doctor will decide about what type of valve is needed at the time of surgery. Some artificial (prosthetic) valves are made of biological tissue, thus, are called organic. Others consist of metal (titanium, steel, etc.) and are called mechanical valves.
Surgical Treatment of Atrial Septal Defect (ASD)
Atrial Septal Defect is a “hole in the wall that separates the top two chambers of the heart.” This wall, called the septum, does not close completely, due to this hole that allows blood to flow between the upper chambers. It is a congenital anomaly. During surgery, this hole is sutured.
An aneurysm occurs when part of an artery wall weakens, allowing it to widen abnormally or balloon out. Enlargement (swelling) of the heart muscle can occur after a major heart attack. If this happens, the heart does not function properly as a pump. Symptoms you might have are: shortness of breath, pain or arrhythmia. During surgery, a coiling procedure may be done to close off the area.