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Greg Matter, MD
Cardiac &Thoracic Surgery

600 E. Taylor St.  Suite 100  Sherman, Texas 75090

Office Hours: M-Th 8:00 am - 5:00 pm;  Fri 8:00 am - 12:00 pm       903-868-4595     Fax 903-416-6184       


Expectations

There are many types of heart surgery. One person's experience before surgery can be very different from another's.

Some people carefully plan their surgeries with their doctors. They know exactly when and how their surgeries will happen. Other people need emergency heart surgery. For example, they might be diagnosed with blocked coronary arteries and admitted to the hospital right away for immediate surgery.

If you're having a planned surgery, your doctors and others on your health care team will meet with you to explain what will happen. They'll tell you how to prepare for the surgery. You might be admitted to the hospital the afternoon or morning before your surgery.

You may have some tests before the surgery, such as an EKG (electrocardiogram), chest x ray, or blood tests. An intravenous (IV) line will be inserted into a blood vessel in your arm or chest to provide you with required fluids and medicines.


A member of your health care team may shave the area where Dr. Matter will make the incision (cut) to provide entry into your chest cavity. Also, your skin will be washed with special soap to sterilize the entry region to reduce the risk of infection.

Just before the surgery, you'll be moved to the operating room. You'll be given medicine so that you fall asleep and don't feel pain during the surgery.

Heart surgery is done in a hospital, and a team of experts is always involved. Cardiothoracic surgeons, like Dr. Matter, perform the surgery with other doctors and nurses in attendance who help.

How long the surgery takes will depend on the type of surgery you're having. Artery-bypass surgery, the most common type of heart surgery, takes about 3–6 hours.

Traditional Open-Heart Surgery

For this type of surgery, you'll be given medicine to help you fall asleep. An assisting doctor will check your heartbeat, blood pressure, oxygen levels, and breathing during the surgery.

A breathing tube will be placed through your throat, giving air access to you lungs. The other end of the tube will connect to a ventilator (a machine that will support your breathing).

Dr. Matter will make a 6- to 8-inch incision (cut) down the center of your chest wall. Then, he will cut through your breastbone in order to open your rib cage to reach your heart.

During the surgery, you'll receive medicine to thin your blood and keep it from clotting. A heart-lung bypass machine will be connected to your heart. The machine will take over your heart's pumping action and move blood away from your heart while Dr. Matter is performing his surgery.

A specialist will oversee the heart-lung bypass machine. The machine will allow Dr. Matter to operate on your heart while it isn't beating and while it doesn't have blood flowing through it.

Once you're connected to the heart-lung bypass machine, you'll be given medicine to stop your heartbeat while the heart-lung machine takes over your heart's pumping function . A tube will then be placed in your heart to drain remaining blood back to the machine.

The machine will remove carbon dioxide (a waste product) from your blood, add oxygen to your blood, and then pump the blood back into your body. Dr. Matter will then insert tubes into your chest to drain any fluid which may build up during surgery.

Once the bypass machine starts to work, Dr. Matter will repair your heart problem. After the surgery is done, he will restore the blood flow to your heart. Usually, your heart will start beating again on its own. Sometimes mild electric shocks are used to restart the heart.

Once your heart has started beating again, Dr. Matter will stop the heart-lung bypass machine and remove the tubes connected to it. You'll then be given medicine to allow your blood to clot normally again.

Dr. Matter will close your breastbone using wires to bind the breastbone back together. The wires will remain in your body permanently. After your breastbone heals, it will be as strong as it was before the surgery was performed.

Stitches or staples will be used to close the skin over the entry incision. Your breathing tube will be removed as soon as you're able to breathe without any machine assistance.

Off-Pump Heart Surgery

Off-pump heart surgery is similar to traditional open-heart surgery in that the chest bone is opened to access the heart. However, in this situation, the heart isn't stopped, and a heart-lung bypass machine isn't used.

Instead, Dr. Matter will steady your heart with a mechanical device so that he can work upon it. While Dr. Matter is working, your heart will continue to pump blood to your body.

Minimally Invasive Heart Surgery

For this type of heart surgery, Dr. Matter will make small incisions in the side of your chest between your ribs near your heart. These cuts can be as small as 2–3 inches. Dr. Matter will insert surgical tools through these small openings to perform his surgery.

A tool with a small video camera at the tip will also be inserted through an incision. This tool will allow Dr. Matter to see well enough inside your body to perform his work.

Some types of minimally invasive heart surgery use a heart-lung bypass machine and others don't.


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