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Heart defect repair is surgery to fix a heart problem that prevents blood from flowing as it should through the heart. The doctor will make a large cut in your chest. The cut is called an incision. It usually is made through the breastbone (sternum). But some types of heart defects are repaired through a cut in the side of the chest between the ribs. The doctor will connect you to a machine that does the jobs of your heart and lungs. It's called a heart-lung bypass machine. This machine lets the doctor stop your heartbeat while working on your heart.
After the heart is repaired, the doctor will restart your heartbeat. The doctor will disconnect the heart-lung machine. Then the doctor will use stitches or staples to close the incision in your chest.
Some heart defects can be fixed with one surgery. But there's a chance that you may need more than one surgery to fix the defect.
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.
Surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for surgery.
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Current as of: December 16, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine & John A. McPherson MD, FACC, FSCAI - Cardiology
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