A sternotomy is a procedure that allows your doctor to reach your heart or nearby organs and blood vessels. First the doctor made a cut (incision) in the skin over your breastbone (sternum). Then he or she cut through your sternum. When your surgery was finished, the doctor reconnected your sternum. The doctor most likely used wire, which will stay in your body even after your sternum has healed.
Full recovery from surgery that includes a sternotomy can take months. Recovery from the sternotomy includes healing of the sternum and slowly building up your physical strength.
This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to feel better as quickly as possible.
Using your arms to get out of and into a bed, chair, or couch can put pressure on your healing sternum. These instructions show you how to do these things safely.
Your nurse or doctor may have shown you a different way to do these things. If so, follow his or her instructions.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
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Current as of: December 6, 2017
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & David C. Stuesse, MD - Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery
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