Are there any risks involved in undergoing an operation?
Much like any invasive surgical procedure, bypass surgery is not without risks and complications. It is important to be aware of this prior to making the decision to undergo surgery. In order to reduce the possible risks and complications it is extremely important to provide the surgeon and the anesthesiologist with all your personal and medical history in order for them to select the most suitable treatment compatible with your needs, while paying extra attention to any other relevant factors.
Any non-emergency surgery is considered a relatively safe procedure, with relatively very low mortality rates (about 1%), as well as low complication risks. However, patients suffering from left ventricular systolic dysfunction, patients who have undergone a myocardial infarction resulting in an impaired heart muscle, patients suffering from cardiovascular diseases, or from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, are considered to be at high risk for surgery. Risk from anesthesia is also relatively low.
What important information is needed prior to surgery?
In preparation for valve repair or replacement surgery the patient must undergo a complete blood count, which includes the following: a biochemical analysis, electrolyte, liver function and blood clotting testing. An ECG and chest x-ray will also be performed. Furthermore, the patient will also need to have in his possession all the cardiac imaging tests that were performed, such as the diagnostic cardiac catheterization/virtual catheterization, cardiac CT, cardiac stress test etc. It is important for the patient to prepare an entire medical portfolio in order to be able to share his/her entire medical history with the surgeon and the anesthesiologist. It is especially important that the medical team be informed of prior surgical procedures and hospital admissions, chronic ailments, prescription drugs, diet supplements and allergies. Patients who suffer from secondary ailments are required to a consult with their individual specialists (e.g. internist, gynecologist, dermatologist) prior to undergoing surgery. One week prior to surgery and in accord with the surgeon’s recommendation, the patient should stop taking anticoagulation drugs such as Coumadin. It is important to confer with your family physician or your surgeon regarding substitutes. On the day of the operation, from 6 hours prior to surgery, the patient must be on a complete fast, including water intake. Before surgery, dentures, jewelry and personal items of clothing will be removed by a staff member, and it is advised to refrain from smoking. Should the operating site include bodily hair, this will be shaved off by a hospital staff member. It is advised to shower afterwards. Moments before the surgery, the patient will be hooked up to an infusion into which the anesthesiologist will introduce sedatives that will assist in relieving anxiety and stress.