Open Heart Surgery – Apollo Hospitals Blog

What is Open Heart Surgery?

In open-heart surgery, the sternum is cut to gain access to the heart. Sometimes open heart surgery is also referred to as traditional heart surgery. Currently, many new cardiac procedures can be performed with only small cuts/incisions, without wide openings. Therefore, the term “open heart surgery” can be misleading.

CABG (bypass surgery), heart transplant, and valve replacement are all examples of open heart surgery. In addition, heart failure, congenital heart defects, and coronary artery disease can be treated with open heart procedures.

Read also about: Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement

Why or when open heart surgery is needed?

Patients with coronary artery disease may require open-heart surgery for a coronary artery bypass graft. Coronary artery disease is the result of narrowing and hardening of the coronary arteries that supply the heart muscle with blood and oxygen. When fatty material develops a plaque on the walls of the coronary arteries, it is called induration. This buildup narrows the arteries, making it difficult for blood to flow, increasing the risk of a heart attack when blood flow to the heart is obstructed.

Open heart surgeries are also done for other reasons, such as:

  • Heart valves that keep blood flowing through the heart need to be repaired or replaced.
  • To heal any parts of the heart that are damaged or abnormal.
  • To implant medical gadgets that help the heart beat properly
  • Replacing the damaged heart with a donated heart, also known as a heart transplant.

telephone call 1860-500-1066 to book an appointment

What Are the Types of Open Heart Surgery Used in CABG?

There are two types of open heart surgery that can be performed in CABG, and they are:

  • On-pump – A heart-lung bypass device is attached to the heart and takes over the heart and lungs for a short period of time. It moves blood away from the heart so that the surgeon can perform surgery on a heart that is not beating and has no blood supply. After surgery, the surgeon disconnects the device and the heart begins to function normally again.
  • Off-pump – Off-pump bypass surgery is performed on a heart that continues to beat normally. This method is only effective in the case of coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG).

What can you expect from open heart surgery?

Before surgery

Before open heart surgery, a person can expect the following:

  • Chest X-ray, electrocardiogram, echocardiogram, and other diagnostic procedures to help the surgeon plan treatment.
  • The chest must be shaved.
  • Antimicrobial (bacterial-killing) soap is used to sterilize the surgical area.
  • An intravenous line (IV) tube runs into the arm and delivers fluids and medications.

During surgery

Heart surgery is a complex procedure and can take up to six hours. During the procedure for pain management, the patient is given an anesthetic. Next, the surgeon makes an 8- to 10-inch cut in the chest. The surgeon cuts all or part of the patient’s sternum to expose the heart. The surgeon can now repair the heart and, using a healthy vein or artery, the surgeon builds a new route around the blocked artery.

Once the heart’s blood flow is restored, the heart begins to beat on its own. A small electric shock may be needed to restart the heart. The heart-lung machine, if used, can now be switched off. The surgeon uses threads or stitches to close the sternum or other wounds and closes the skin incision with stitches.

After the operation

Depending on the surgery, the patient may need to spend a day or more in the hospital’s intensive care unit (ICU). They will be moved to a regular hospital room when they are ready and may experience the following after surgery:

  • Constipation is a common complaint in humans (a common side effect of strong painkillers).
  • Mood changes or depression
  • Insomnia or trouble sleeping
  • loss of appetite
  • memory problems
  • Muscle pain in the chest
  • Pain, bruising and mild swelling at the site of the incision

How can someone take care of themselves at home after open heart surgery?

Incision care

It is always important to take care of the incision. Provide a warm, dry environment around the incision site and wash hands before and after touching it. You can shower if the incision is healing correctly and there is no drainage. Showering for less than 10 minutes with warm (not hot) water is recommended.

pain management

Pain management is crucial, as it can speed up recovery. Muscle pain, sore throat, pain at the incision site, and pain from the chest tubes are all possible.

Get enough sleep

While some people have trouble sleeping after open-heart surgery, it’s critical to get as much rest as possible. One can improve sleep by:

  • Take a painkiller half an hour before going to bed
  • By properly arranging pillows to relieve muscle tension
  • Avoid caffeine at night


A planned, thorough rehabilitation program is beneficial for most people who have had a CABG. This is generally done as an outpatient procedure with several visits per week. Exercise, lowering risk factors, and managing stress, anxiety, and depression are all part of treatment.


Open heart surgery always has a slow but steady recovery. It can take up to six weeks to start feeling better, and it can take up to six months to fully benefit from the procedure. One can keep one’s heart healthy by doing the following:

  • Follow a nutritious diet
  • Limit high-salt, high-fat, and high-sugar foods
  • Adopt a more active lifestyle
  • Avoid smoking
  • Dealing with high blood pressure and cholesterol

Leave a Comment