Heart surgery basics

Heart surgeries are complex and critical. Here are some guidelines to help you understand their basis and pre-requisites

woman in hospitalAilments affecting the heart can be treated better now-a-days with drugs, balloon therapy [lab-based treatment] and surgery. When a person suffers a heart disorder, the entire family gets disturbed and worried. With this article, I will try and give few guidelines, which may help in reducing these worries.

There are three types of heart diseases, which can be tackled by surgery:

  • Congenital heart disorders [birth defects]
  • Rheumatic heart disorders [heart valve defects]
  • Ischemic heart disorders [arterial blockages caused by cholesterol].

Surgery essentials

Here are some points to keep in mind before planning for a surgery. The tentative date of surgery, whether surgery is a must or are there any other options available? If options are available, then the risk–benefit ratio of each option has to be considered by discussing it with the doctor.

The cost of surgery depends on:

  • Disposable material
  • Duration of surgery
  • Risk involved in surgery
  • Place of surgery
  • Surgeon.

Surgery support

The need for blood and products like fresh frozen plasma, and platelets should be known prior to admission. The same should be discussed with the surgeon and the blood bank of the hospital as they may ask for group- specific donors. It is always better to keep one or two group-specific donors available at the time of surgery to circumvent unforeseen emergencies.

Medications: Prior to surgery, certain medications need to be stopped and few to be added, which must be followed as per surgeon's instructions.

Risk of surgery: General risk factors and specific risk factors in a given patient should be discussed and understood prior to the operation. This will help to prepare a contingency plan that can take care of the need for extra finance, extra blood and personnel to support patient and patient's immediate family members.

Time and date of surgery: It should be fixed taking into consideration future family and business commitments, availability of finance, blood donors, personnel to support the patient and above all superstitions [which may crop at the last minute].

On admission, one has to take all the reports to the hospital and inform the hospital staff once again about the present illness, previous illness and if at all there are any known allergies.All the above discussions should be done with the consultant by the patient's family. Family members should always be present during important discussions and should take decisions without much delay in the preoperative period, if complications occur.

Decisions taken by understanding the disease and its ill-effects on the patient's body and mind will help the patient to live a normal life. With today's scientific advancement, even the weakest heart can be operated upon and a person can lead a reasonably fruitful life.

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Shripal M Doshi
Shripal M Doshi, MS [Gen Surg], MCh [Thoracic Surg], is a visiting cardiothoracic and vascular surgery consultant at Dr L H Hiranandani Hospital, Powai, Mumbai. He takes cardiac surgery as his hobby and treats patients from all socio–economic strata with equal commitment.

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