Open heart surgery is an invasive surgical procedure that accesses the cardiac muscle, or the heart. Open heart surgery is performed for a number of reasons, all of which attempt to correct a defective or damaged areas of the heart, thereby improving its function. In the United States, nearly one-half million cardiac surgeries are performed on a yearly basis, and can be performed on children as well as adults.
The most common type of open heart surgery is called coronary artery bypass grafting, also known as CABG. However, cardiac surgery also can be utilized to replace or repair heart valves, repair damaged areas of the heart, to implant medical devices that help to regulate heart rhythm, or restore heart function and adequate blood flow for optimal health and wellness.
Types Of Open Heart Surgery
Open heart surgery is defined as any type of surgery where the chest cavity is opened in order to access the heart. The chest is opened by cutting through the sternum, or breast bone. Rib spreaders may also be utilized to access the inside of the chest cavity. Individuals undergoing open heart surgery are commonly placed on a heart-lung bypass machine. Because it's difficult to operate on a beating heart, the heart is stopped, though blood flow, oxygenation and normal body organ function is continued through the use of the heart-lung bypass machine, which literally acts as a substitute for the heart during the procedure.
Another type of open heart surgery is called off-pump or beating heart surgery, which doesn't utilize a heart-lung bypass machine. This type of procedure is called off-pump bypass surgery, which utilizes heart stabilizers during the procedure, which include vein grafting that literally bypasses damaged pr blocked cardiac veins through the attachment of portions of good veins taken from other parts of the body. The stabilizers used in off-pump procedures are called an Octopus suction device because they utilizes suction cup activity and action much like that produced by an octopus. These suction cup devices hold one section of the heart still while the other portions of the heart remain functioning so that the surgeon can work on small portions of the heart at a time.
Who Benefits From Open Heart Surgery?
Individuals diagnosed with narrowed or clogged coronary arteries may benefit from traditional open heart and off-pump open heart surgery to help restore adequate blood flow through the heart muscle. Open heart surgery can help repair damage as well as prevent damage to other areas of the heart affected by reduced blood flow, thereby reducing the risk of heart attack. Individuals experiencing chest pain and shortness of breath may also benefit from open heart surgical procedures.
How Much Does Open Heart Surgery Cost?
The cost of open heart surgery depends on the type of surgery performed on the heart. For example, a single coronary artery bypass will cost less than a double bypass or triple bypass surgical procedure. The methodology used in the open heart surgery will also determine cost; traditional or off-pump. Cardiac care in the United States is expensive and heart bypass can cost up to $130,000 to $150,000, depending on the amount of cardiac damage, the procedure and how many grafts are being placed. Single bypass surgery averages around $15,000 to $30,000 for each graft, but costs may differ between geographic regions and hospital. A single bypass graft costs roughly $10,000 in India, and $18,500 in Singapore. In South Africa, the procedure costs roughly $12,800.
Health insurance may pay some of the costs of open heart surgery, but may or may not have caps or limits depending on carrier. Medical tourists to foreign destinations may save tens of thousands of dollars on open heart surgery, either traditional or off-pump, in a variety of world class cardiac care hospitals around the globe.
Who Performs Open Heart Surgery?
Thoracic or cardiovascular surgeons perform heart bypass surgical procedures. Many cardiac surgeons specialize in cardiovascular methods and treatment procedures after roughly five years of general surgery residency, followed by two to three years of cardiothoracic surgery residency.
As always, patients are advised to research and verify certification and licensing by checking with local and international cardiovascular surgical associations, organizations, and memberships to ensure that the physician of their choice has been adequately trained and is experienced in cardiovascular surgical procedures.