Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery
Chief Physician

Open Heart Surgery

PD MD Wolfgang Harringer

Chief Physician

Patient rating
    3.8/5 (13 votes)
Statistics 2017
  • 7816 patient admission
  • 32 physicians
  • 117 medical staff
  • 872 electrophysiological examinations of the heart
  • 277 right heart catheterizations
  • 3985 left heart catheterizations
  • 1218 diagnostic tracheobronchoscopy
  • 2398 transesophageal echocardiography
  • 378 implantations of a cardiac pacemaker, defibrillator
  • 1092 inserting a stent

Open Heart Surgery

Heart Surgery Department of the Clinic of Braunschweig was founded in 1990 to provide specialized services of cardiovascular and thoracic surgery. Professional team under the management of Assistant Professor Dr. Wolfgang Harringer includes fully qualified surgeons, physicians, nurses and cardio-technicians that take care of each patient with diseases of the heart and thoracic organs.

The Department works in cooperation with the other departments of Clinic of Braunschweig as Cardiac Center of Braunschweig, Cancer and Radiology Departments to offer the patients comprehensive service with involvement of the specialists in related areas of medicine. The personnel of the department understand importance of giving not only professional help but also attentive care for their patients who often are older and have several diseases. The goal of our teams is achieving the most complete restoration of the heart using all the possible means including heart surgery.

Heart Operations

There are many different reasons for having heart surgery. Operation often helps to correct some problems that are not treatable with conservative medicine. Among the most common types of coronary and restorative heart surgeries are:

  • Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG)
  • Restoration or replacement of degenerative heart valves
  • Repair of congenital heart diseases
  • Implantation of the devices controlling heart beat
  • Replacement of damaged heart with a healthy organ from donor.

Open Heart Surgery

Though with developing of cardiovascular surgery minimally invasive approach to heart surgery has becoming more popular, traditional open heart surgery is still used in the most cases. It is especially recommended when the treatment involves complex restoration of the coronary vessels, valves, chambers and other parts of the heart in one operation.

The procedure is performed under general anesthesia and lasts about 5-6 hours. First, the heart surgeon makes a long incision (10-12 inches long) in the patient’s chest to expose the heart. After that a heart-lung machine is connected to support the body with oxygen and nutrition instead of heart and the heart is stopped.

Cardiopulmonary Bypass

It is traditionally considered that the best conditions for cardiac surgery when the heart is motionless and bloodless. Stopping the heart without body damage is provided by the technique of cardiopulmonary bypass. The procedure involves connecting of the heart-lung machine and temperature management when hypothermia is inducted to slow down metabolic processes in the body.

In normal condition, the brain dies in 3-4 minutes without normal blood supply but when body temperature as low as from 28 °C (82.4°F) to 32 °C (89.6 °F) the brain can survive during operation. Special doctors called perfusionists maintain this process and operate the heart-lung machine during surgery.

After performing necessary manipulations as creating a graft around diseased artery, valves restoration or congenital disorders repair, the cardio surgeon closes the chest using a wire which is stay inside after all and stitches the cut. The patient is moved to Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

Recovery after Surgery

After the surgery the patient stays at least 24 hour (or more depending on state) in Intensive Care Unit connected to the tubes and wires of equipment supporting the heart and normal functioning of the body. A breathing tube is installed to the patient’s mouth as the lung may not work properly first hours after the operation.

A team of well trained nurses takes care of the patient helping to restore normal body activities as soon as possible. Among the procedures carried out in ICU are:

  • Giving intravenous medications
  • Incision care
  • Pain management
  • Warming the patient with blankets
  • Moving the patient to change body positions

After discharging from the ICU the patient stays in a hospital and recovers step by step

  • Trying to move in bed and get out it
  • Receiving breathing therapy
  • Supporting the body with food and large amount of fluids
  • Walking in hallway
  • Stitches removal
  • Getting stronger
  • Leaving from the hospital

At home the patient should follow recommendations of his/her physician and keep optimal regime for sooner recovery that includes taking medications as prescribed, having enough sleep, avoiding caffeine, no smoking, controlling blood pressure, having healthy diet and reasonable physical activity. Complete recovery may take about half of year.

Risks of Open Heart Surgery

The general risks are:

  • Blood clots
  • Bleeding
  • Infections

Among the specific risks associated with heart surgery you could name:

  • Arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)
  • Stroke
  • Ischemic heart damage

Risk associated with using heart-lung machine:

  • Pneumonia
  • Collapse of lung

Death rate is comparatively low. It is less than 1 % in patients who are not older than 65 but increasing with age.

The professionals of Heart Surgery Department of the Clinic of Braunschweig do their best to increase the benefits of open surgery for the clinic’s patients. If you consider on heart surgery and need consultation related to your heart health please use our call service. We will not make you waiting and give your detailed information and recommendations of the team of the best physicians and surgeon lead by Dr. Harringer.

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