Open Heart Surgery

Open heart surgery is a surgical procedure that involves opening the chest wall to work on the heart.

Types of Open Heart Surgery

The most common types of open heart surgery include:

During Open Heart Surgery

Open heart surgery is done under general anesthesia, which means you'll be asleep during the procedure. You'll probably be connected to a heart-lung bypass machine, which will pump your blood for you while the surgeon is working on your heart.

During your open heart surgery, the heart surgeon will make an incision in your chest. Your breastbone will also need to be separated so the surgeon can work on your heart.

Robotic Open Heart Surgery

A new technique that's being developed for use in heart surgery is robotic-assisted surgery. During robotic-assisted surgery, the surgeon uses thin robotic arms and a computer to control the surgical tools, which allows for more highly complex and precise movements. This type of surgery is generally done for minimally invasive types of heart surgery.

Open Heart Surgery Recovery

You'll probably be in the hospital for several days after open heart surgery, including a short stay in the ICU. You might have tubes in your chest to drain fluid from your heart and in your bladder to drain urine. The tubes will be removed 1-3 days after your surgery.

After surgery, you'll also have an IV line for fluids and pain medication. Make sure you tell your nurse if you're experiencing pain.

Open heart surgery recovery time will vary depending on the type of surgery you have and your overall health.

At Wake Forest Baptist Health, you'll have access to a team of health care professionals who can help you with your recovery from open heart surgery. Your team may include heart doctors (cardiologists), nurse specialists and others.

Open Heart Surgery Risks

As with any type of surgery, open heart surgery does have some risks. Some of the risks are associated with anesthesia; others are related to the procedure. Risks associated with open heart surgery may include:

  • Bleeding
  • Abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias)
  • Blood clots
  • Breathing problems
  • Heart attack
  • Pain
  • Stroke
  • Infection
  • Kidney failure

You may request an appointment with a Heart Center doctor by filling out our online form.

Learn more about Wake Forest Baptist's cardiology services.

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Minimally Invasive Heart Surgery

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center is the only facility in the region to have the da Vinci® surgical robotic system.

Last Updated: 02-14-2014
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Disclaimer: The information on this website is for general informational purposes only and SHOULD NOT be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice, evaluation or care from your physician or other qualified health care provider.