Heart defect repair is surgery to fix a heart problem that prevents blood from flowing normally through the heart. The doctor will make a large cut (incision) in your child's chest. The incision usually is made through the breastbone (sternum). But some types of heart defects are repaired through an incision in the side of the chest between the ribs. The doctor will connect your child to a machine that does the jobs of the heart and lungs (heart-lung bypass machine). This machine will allow the doctor to stop your child's heartbeat while the doctor works on the heart.
After the heart is repaired, the doctor will restart your child's heartbeat and disconnect the heart-lung machine. Then the doctor will use stitches to close the incision in your child's chest.
Some heart defects can be repaired with one surgery. But it is possible that your child may need more than one surgery to fix the defect.
Your child will probably spend about 5 days in the hospital.
Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.
Having surgery can be stressful both for your child and for you. This information will help you understand what you can expect and how to safely prepare for surgery.
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Current as of: July 22, 2018
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
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