Heart Transplant Surgery

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Heart Transplant Surgery: What you Need to Know

Heart disease is one of the number one problems affecting millions of people in the United States. For many people, heart transplant surgery is the only remaining option available to them. Once chosen as a candidate for the procedure, you will need to enlighten yourself on what to expect before entering the operating room as well as what actually takes place while you are on the surgical table.

As you may know, heart transplant surgery involves the removal of one’s diseased heart and replacing it with a new, healthy heart that has been removed from a donor. Many heart transplant patients say that though they may spend many weeks or months waiting for their new heart, they were never fully ready for the time when they have to actually undergo the operation.

There are a few things that you should expect before your heart transplant surgery. On admission to the hospital providing the surgery, your physician will obtain signature on your medical form. Moreover, any preoperative tests will be carried out. After the test, you will be taken to your room where friends and family may stay with you.

While in the OR, your chest will be washed using an antiseptic solution. This is to reduce the chances of infection. The chest area may also be shaved. The presiding anesthesiologist will proceed to attach monitors to monitor you heart and blood pressure. Moreover, administration of anesthesia will begin intravenously. After you lose consciousness, the heart transplant surgery will begin.

The heart transplant operation begins with an incision made to the sternum, commonly referred to as the breastbone. The bone is then divided to allow easy access to the heart. To provide circulation and oxygenation of your blood, a heart and lung machine will be connected. What follows is the opening of the pericardium and the removal of the heart. The heart is then carefully fitted and through the orthopotic procedure sewn. The orthopotic procedure is where the new heart is fitted to the remaining portions of the arteries. After the new heart begins to beat properly, you will be removed from the heart and lung machine.

To cater for drainage of fluids that accumulate as a result of the surgery, one or more tubes may be placed after the operative procedures. Pacing wires may also be brought out of the chest cavity in case your new heart needs pacing. The operated area is now sewn back together. The fatty tissues as well as the skin across the chest are closed via the use of absorbable sutures.

This is of course a simplified version of what to expect when having heart transplant surgery. Your surgeon will probably give you more detailed information when the time comes.