What Does Heart Surgery Involve?
Before your Heart Surgery
Before you undergo heart surgery please sit down with your cardiac surgeon and the support team. This would be the best opportunity to clear any apprehensions regarding the procedure and subsequent care.
Blood tests: This will provide a baseline value regarding your hemoglobin level and blood counts. In addition it provides us with an estimate of the function of the kidneys and liver prior to surgery. Your blood group and type will also be performed – this is in case a transfusion is needed during or after surgery.
Chest X-ray (CXR): This is performed assess how the disease process has afffected the heart and lungs and gain a baseline reference prior to surgery.
Electrocardiogram (ECG): To evaluate your baseline heart rhythm.
Echo: This is performed in all cardiac cases to obtain a baseline about the cardiac function prior to surgery and evaluate all chambers of the heart, the valves and their function.
Coronary Angiogram: Other than those patients undergoing a CABG, a CAG is performed on patients above 40 years of age undergoing surgery for valvular and other heart diseases to rule out blocks in the vessels supplying the heart.
Carotid Ultrasound: Typically performed in patients over 40 years of age undergoing heart surgery and those with a previous history of stroke to detect a blockage in the neck vessels.
Dental examination: In those patients undergoing surgery for valvular heart disease a a dental exam is necessary to rule out infection that can potentially seed the newly implanted valve with life threatening consequences.
Pulmonary Function Tests (PFT): As one ages there is a decrease in lung function. A PFT enables the operating team to anticipate problems in weaning patients from the ventilator and take appropriate measures to prevent respiratory insufficiency in the post-operative period.
CT scan: Performed in those patients who are being considered for surgery on the aorta, treatment of aortic aneurysms, transcatheter valve replacement procedure and possibly those who are candidates for a minimally invasive procedure.
Transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE): This is an echo that is performed by passing a probe down the throat. It is performed in cases where additional information is needed that is not provided by a conventional transthoracic echo (TTE).
Please mention to the surgical team all medications that you are on currently
In addition to blood pressure medications do not forget to mention if you are on:
- Antiplatelet medications
- Blood thinners (Anti coagulants)
- Herbal medications
- Steroids or other immunosuppresants/ immunomodulators