Heart Surgery

MaineHealth wants to ensure patients with cardiac problems receive the best care from experienced health professionals.  Our heart surgeons work for the best solutions. They use the latest surgical technologies to provide the best care.

What is heart surgery?

Heart surgery is done to correct problems with the heart. There are different surgeries done to treat a variety of heart health problems. Doctors also use heart surgery to:

  • Repair or replace heart valves, which control blood flow through the heart
  • Repair abnormal or damaged heart structures
  • Implant medical devices that help control the heartbeat or support heart function and blood flow
  • Replace a damaged heart with a healthy heart from a donor
  • Treat heart failure and coronary heart disease
  • Control abnormal heart rhythms

Conditions treated with heart surgery

  • Arrhythmias

  • Cardiac valve disease

  • Coronary artery disease

  • Heart attack

  • Heart failure

  • Vascular disease    

Heart surgery risks

Heart surgery has risks, even though its results often are excellent. Risks include:

  • Bleeding

  • Infection

  • Irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias)

  • Stroke

  • Memory loss

  • Death

Talk with your doctor to address any concerns or ask questions about risks related to specific heart surgeries.

Heart surgery types

Variety of heart surgeries

There are a variety of heart surgeries performed today depending on the disease being treated and the patients’ overall health condition. Some heart surgery types include:

  • Coronary artery bypass grafting : During coronary artery bypass grafting, a healthy artery or vein from the body is connected, or grafted, to the blocked coronary artery. The connected artery or vein goes around the blocked portion of the coronary artery. This creates a new path for oxygen-rich blood to flow to the heart muscle.

  • Pacemaker implantation: A pacemaker is a small device surgically implanted under the skin. It sends electrical impulses to the heart muscle to maintain an appropriate heart rate and rhythm.

  • Implantable cardioverter defibrillator: Also surgically implanted under the skin, an ICD is an electronic device that constantly monitors the heart’s rhythm. When it detects an abnormal heart rhythm, it delivers energy to shock the heart back into beating regularly.

  • Heart transplant: A heart transplant is surgery to remove a person's diseased heart and replace it with a healthy heart from a deceased donor. Most heart transplants are done on patients who have end-stage heart failure.

  • Stent placement: A stent is a small mesh platform used to open narrowed or weakened arteries.

  • Convergent procedure: Performed by both a cardiothoracic surgeon and a cardiologist who is trained in electrophysiology working together, this approach is less invasive than open heart surgery and can be highly effective in restoring normal heart rhythm in appropriate patients.

  • Open heart surgery: Open heart surgery is any surgery in which the chest is opened and surgery is done on the heart muscle, valves, arteries, or other parts of the heart (such as the aorta). The term "open" means that the chest is "cut" open.

  • Watchman: The WATCHMAN™ is a device that is implanted in the left atrial appendage of the heart by a minimally invasive procedure. This keeps harmful blood clots from entering the bloodstream.

  • Mitraclip: A special metal clip, called a MitraClip® is implanted by a minimally invasive approach for treating mitral valve regurgitation. It allows the patient to achieve optimal blood flow and pressures.

  • Transcatheter aortic valve replacement: A transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is only for patients who have an unacceptably high risk for standard surgical aortic valve replacement. In TAVR, a new valve is implanted inside the patient's own narrowed valve. As a result, blood flow through the heart and body increases

Do you have questions about heart health?

Connect with a Health Educator, and ask your questions.

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