The operations

The length of surgery may vary depending on the type of procedure you have to undergo. An operation may take three to six hours. After surgery, you will be transferred to the intensive care unit. Immediately after surgery, the cardiac surgeon will contact the family by phone.


Agree within the family who will act as the contact person, this keeps communication complete and clear.

Valve operation

Valve surgery includes repairing or replacing the valve. Repairing the valve may involve loosening valve leaflets that have grown together or removing an abnormal piece of valve. Repairing the valve may also involve making a stretched valve ring smaller and placing an artificial ring. Valve replacement means removing all or part of the existing valve, and replacing it with an artificial valve

Types of valves

There are 2 types of artificial valves: the mechanicaland the biologicalartificial valve. Because each has its advantages and disadvantages, it is important to make the right choice.

Mechanical artificialvalves are made of plastic(carbon compounds and metal). They basically last a lifetime. Some of these valves are clearly audible, while others make little noise.

Important to know: when a mechanical valve is implanted, you must take anticoagulant medication for life.

Biological artificial valves are derived from animal tissue (a valve from a pig or made from the pericardium of pigs or cattle). Biological valves have the advantage of being noiselessand the advantage of not being tied to anticoagulant medication for life. The main disadvantage is that they wear out over time and therefore need to be replaced at some point.

It is important to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the different artificial valves with your doctor in order to make the right choice for you.

Coronary bypass

To bridge the narrowing in the coronary arteries (coronaries), a number of bypasses are made. For these bypasses, blood vessels that are still in good condition are taken from other parts of your body. Only those blood vessels are used from places where they can be missed without causing you any damage or discomfort. Preferably, the doctor will choose to use one or two mammary arteries. In this case, you will have only one wound: the one at the level of your chest.

Your surgeon may also choose to take veins from the leg. In this case, you will not only have the wound near your chest but also a wound at the level of your leg.

Preparation for the operation

After the doctor has carried out a complete cardiac examination, or after you have undergone a coronary artery scan (= keyhole intervention via the groin or arm), it may be decided that surgery is the best solution for you. It is important to know that you should make this decision, in consultation with your family and in consultation with the doctor. If you were admitted urgently, there is usually little time to consider the decision and surgery is performed immediately.

Under normal circumstances, you can prepare well for your heart surgery.

Some guidelines to prepare for your surgery:

  • A strict smoking ban is necessary to pursue optimal breathing after your surgery. This ban also ensures good ‘hygiene’ of your blood vessels.
  • If you will be undergoing valve surgery, it is important that you see your dentist. Sick and bad teeth increase the risk of infections at the level of the heart.
  • Take your medication at the appropriate times and in the correct amount.
  • Contact your doctor if there are any abnormal changes in your medical condition.
  • When you are admitted to the hospital, always bring your blood group card and home medication in the original package.
  • By seeking sufficient information, you can try to reduce the uncertainty and anxiety associated with this operation. It is advisable to talk to someone who has already had heart surgery.
  • Try to find peace of mind in people close to you. A waiting period before surgery requires an extra dose of zest for life.
  • Being overly concerned with your heart condition often has a paralyzing effect. Try to find some distraction in your work, your hobby or try to occupy yourself with pleasant things.
  • When in doubt, see the cardiac surgeon for a conversation that can clarify your situation. A good discussion can often bring calm and confidence.
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