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
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 36 hours.
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
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
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 23 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.