What You Should Know About Heart Surgery - Virtua Health Article

What You Should Know About Heart Surgery

By , Cardiothoracic Surgeon
Virtua Cardiothoracic Surgery – Cherry Hill

The news from your cardiologist is serious—you need heart surgery.

Fortunately, heart procedures have evolved greatly over the years. In many cases, surgeons perform surgery through small incisions or even a catheter, a thin tube used to access veins and arteries. As a result, patients return to their lives more quickly than ever.

A minimally invasive approach to heart surgery

Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery is one of the most common heart procedures used to open up narrow or blocked arteries. Commonly thought of as “open-heart surgery,” this procedure is necessary if a person has multiple blockages in several arteries and stents (tubes used to keep arteries open) have failed to restore proper blood flow.

During CABG surgery, healthy blood vessels, called grafts, are taken from the leg or chest and attached to arteries that supply blood to the heart. Blood flows through the new vessels, bypassing the blockages.

Depending on the number and location in the chest, surgeons now frequently access the blockages through small incisions between the ribs or just under the breastbone. This helps avoid the need for open-heart surgery.

In addition, surgeons often can operate while the heart is still beating, eliminating the need for a heart-lung bypass machine to take over function of the heart and lungs temporarily during the procedure. This also helps reduce pain and shorten recovery time.

Robot-assisted heart surgery

Robot-assisted surgery is one of the newest minimally invasive approaches using 3-D, high-definition cameras and instruments that are inserted through small incisions in the ribs to perform CABG or other procedures. The surgeon controls the robot’s cameras and instruments from a nearby console, increasing precision while reducing the patient’s risk of scarring and infection.

Robot-assisted surgery has several other key advantages:

  • Incisions are smaller than with traditional open-heart surgery.
  • Surgery often is performed on a beating heart, reducing the risk of complications.
  • Patients recover more quickly, leaving the hospital within days and returning to work within weeks. 

A minimally invasive approach to valve replacement

As with bypass surgery, traditional heart valve repair or replacement required a large incision through the chest.

Today, procedures like transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) are done through a small incision in the upper leg. The valve is guided through a catheter to the heart. Patients usually go home after one to three days in the hospital.

All of these advances make heart surgery safer and less traumatic for patients, helping them return to their lives in a shorter time.

Take the next step to a healthier heart

If you know heart surgery is in your future, call 1-888-847-8823 to schedule a consultation with a Virtua Health cardiothoracic surgeon to learn about your options.

For monthly heart health news, classes and support group information, sign up today for Virtua’s heart health newsletter.

Updated April 22, 2020

calendar

HEART HEALTH CLASSES & SUPPORT 

These classes and support groups help you improve your heart health and lower your heart disease risks, as well as provide emotional support from others living with heart disease.

View All Cardiac Classes at Virtua

You may also like

high-bp-damage-th

No Signs, But Lots of Damage: How High Blood Pressure Affects Your Body

High blood pressure can damage the body without symptoms. Headaches, problems breathing, and nosebleeds may not occur until it reaches severe levels.

Read More
A Life-Saving Decision During the Pandemic Saved Barry from a Heart Attack

A Quick Decision Saved Barry from a Heart Attack During the Pandemic

Barry Scheiner of Mt. Laurel, NJ, had a life-threatening heart attack during the pandemic. When seconds mattered, the physicians at Virtua Memorial Hospital saved his life.

Watch Video
exercise-heart-th

Exercise Your Way to a Stronger Heart

Today, we know that exercise is safe for patients with heart failure and can help relieve symptoms. Robert Mohapatra, MD, Virtua Cardiologist, shares tips to be more active with heart failure.

Read More
Showing 3 of 56
Close Covid Bot