What Is Cardiac Surgery?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 24 September 2019
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Cardiac surgery is an operation on a person’s heart or the arteries responsible for blood flow to this organ. A surgeon might perform this type of surgery for a variety of purposes, including to repair heart valves, redirect blood flow, and correct abnormal heart rhythms. Sometimes cardiac surgery is even performed for the purpose of transplanting a new heart. When heart surgery is successful, it can save or extend a patient’s life.

There are many different types of cardiac surgery, but they are all performed on a patient’s heart or the arteries that provide its blood flow. Some heart surgeries are used to correct problems that developed during the course of a patient’s life, while others repair defects in the heart that were present at birth. Some people think of cardiac surgery as an older person’s procedure, but this type of operation is performed on people of all ages, including children. In fact, some life-saving procedures have been performed on infants who were still in the uterus.

One well-known type of cardiac surgery is referred to as bypass surgery. This type of surgery is used to fix arteries that become clogged because a patient has heart disease. When surgeons perform this type of heart surgery, they use a blood vessel from another part of the body to bypass the blood vessels that are narrowed or blocked and not delivering sufficient blood flow to the heart. This surgery can improve blood flow and extend a patient’s life.


Another type of cardiac surgery is referred to as a heart transplant. This type of surgery is used to remove a heart that is diseased or defective beyond repair and replace it with a heart from a donor. The hearts used in heart transplant surgeries are healthy but removed from donors who died from other causes. Unfortunately, heart transplant surgeries are not always successful. When they are, however, they can extend a patient’s life expectancy by years.

Many cardiac operations are also performed to repair or replace heart valves. The opening and closing of the valves of the heart ensure proper blood flow. A surgeon may, for example, widen a valve that is too narrow. Some valves, however, can not be repaired and require replacement. In such a case, a doctor may replace a valve with tissues from humans or animals. In some cases, valves are even replaced with man-made materials.


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