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Cardiothoracic Surgery

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Cardiothoracic Surgery

Washington Hospital has been a leader in the surgical intervention and treatment of adult heart disease for the last 17 years. The cardiac surgery program focuses on a multidisciplinary approach to providing care for our patients.

The cardiac surgery program at Washington Hospital recognizes the importance of meeting the needs of our patients. We have assembled a team of expert healthcare providers that support and care for our patients and families. The patient who has cardiac surgery at Washington Hospital will meet with the cardiac surgeon, the anesthesiologist, our pre-operative staff, and one of our cardiac rehabilitation nurses. Prior to surgery the patient and his/her family will be interviewed and examined in order to plan for their specific needs prior to, during and after surgery.

Healing Hearts
Michael Lingle (right) is back to enjoying his several hobbies after his minimally invasive heart surgery at Washington Hospital.

"The surgery saved my life," Lingle says. "I really encourage people to take control of their own health. If something doesn't seem right, get to the doctor."

Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG) Surgery
If one or more of your coronary arteries (the vessels that carry blood to your heart muscle) are blocked, blood can’t flow to the heart muscle. In this case, the heart muscle may die (heart attack). Coronary artery bypass graft surgery creates a path for blood to flow around a blockage through a blood vessel graft that restores blood flow to the heart. Coronary artery bypass surgery can be done with the heart still beating (off pump) or with the heart still (on pump.) Your surgery team can tell you more about which type of procedure you will have.

On-pump procedure: A machine does the work of your heart and lungs during surgery. Blood is circulated through a heart-lung machine. The machine supplies the blood with oxygen and pumps it back through the body. In these cases, the heart may be stopped temporarily before the graft is attached. Your own heart and lungs start working again after the bypass is completed.

Off-pump procedure: The heart-lung machine is not used and the heart is not stopped. This is sometimes called a "beating heart" procedure. Off-pump surgery allows the surgeon to perform the procedure while the heart is still beating. To accomplish this, the patient is given medication to slow the heart rate during the procedure. In addition, the surgeon uses special tools that stabilize and position the heart to provide access to the blocked arteries. With one part of the heart stabilized, the surgeon can perform the bypass while the rest of the heart pumps oxygen-rich blood to the patient's body.

Valve Surgery
At Washington Hospital we offer an array of valve surgery options to our patients. These options range from traditional sternotomy to minimally invasive valve surgery. A sternotomy involves doing an incision in the center to the chest and dividing the breastbone to gain access to the heart and surrounding structures. This is the traditional approach which is used in heart surgery. In select patients, who are eligible, we approach the repair and replacement of the heart valves through a small incision in the right chest. This "minimally invasive" approach avoids the six to eight week recovery associated with sternotomy. In addition, patients who undergo minimally invasive valve surgery typically require less blood transfusions and are in the hospital for a shorter period of time. This approach can be used in aortic valve surgery, mitral valve surgery and, in some cases, of heart tumors. To know if you are a candidate for minimally invasive valve surgery please contact the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Washington Hopital at 510 248 1400.

Patient Recovery - Washington Hospital Cardiac Rehabilitation Program

Immediately after surgery patients are cared for in the coronary care unit (CCU) by our critical care nursing staff. Our experienced nursing staff provides care using a combination of technological expertise and genuine concern for the patient in order to meet the physical and emotional well-being and comfort of our patients and families. The patient is transferred from the coronary intensive care unit as soon as they are able, where nursing care in provided in a less intense environment. Patients remain on cardiac monitoring and begin to take meals and walk in the room and hallways. Physical therapists and occupational therapists begin working with our patients as soon as the patient is able.

The goal of physical and occupational therapy is to assist the patient in their recovery from surgery and return to their previous level of activity. Dietitians review how to modify the patient's diet to provide a "heart healthy" approach to eating. When needed, our pharmacist provides medication counseling prior to discharge. A member of our case management team meets with the patient and family to develop a plan that will provide a safe and comfortable transition back to home prior to discharge. The discharge plan may include visits from home health assistants, registered nurses, and perhaps physical or occupational therapists.

We contribute data voluntarily to the Society of Thoracic Surgery (STS). The data we submit quarterly benchmarks our program with other cardiac surgery programs in California as well as across the country. We have learned from our participation with the STS that our cardiac surgical population receives high quality care with excellent patient outcomes. Integrating this information with our information gained from our internal quality improvement program allows us to continuously improve the care we can provide.

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