Aortic Surgery Summary

Aortic surgery is done to repair or replace the aortic valve in your heart. Blood flows through your heart, through your aortic valve and into your aorta. The valve opens to allow blood to flow through to the aorta and closes to prevent blood from flowing back to the heart.

Aortic valve damage can cause:

  • Aortic regurgitation, which means blood flows back into the heart
  • Aortic stenosis, which means the valve doesn't fully open and restricts blood flow.

There are two different methods used to perform this procedure. One is minimally invasive, and the other is an open heart surgery.

Length of Aortic Surgery: 1 to 6 hours depending on the method used

Hospital Stay: Generally you will be hospitalized for 7 to 10 days after you have aortic surgery.

Recovery before traveling home: Patients seeking aortic surgery through medical tourism can return home within 7 to 10 days in most cases.

Travel Tip: In most cases your hospital stay is longer than it would be in the USA. Generally, by the time you are released from care you should be able to travel home. Since the hospital stay can vary for this surgery it is best to plan a trip for the maximum time or travel on a flexible ticket.

Procedure Details

Your surgery will begin with the administration of general anesthesia so that you sleep through the entire procedure. The staff will prep the chest for surgery with a sterile drape and an antiseptic liquid. An incision will be made in the center of our chest. The incision length depends on whether the surgery is minimally invasive or open heart.

After the surgeons have made their incision and accessed the heart, the heart needs to be stopped or slowed for repair. This is done with medication or a heart and lung machine. While the heart is still the surgeon can either repair or replace the aortic valve.

If the valve is repaired a ring may be sewn around the opening to tighten it. The valve may also need other repairs. It may be shortened, separated or reinforced. If the valve is unable to be repaired it is removed and replaced with a natural or mechanical valve.

After the Procedure

After the procedure you will be taken to an intensive care unit for recovery. You will remain there for monitoring for several hours. You will be given IV pain medication to ease discomfort and your vitals will be monitored. You will have 2 to 3 tubes inserted in your chest. These tubes drain excess fluid from around the heart and chest cavity. They will be removed within 1 to 3 days of your procedure.

Results

Recovery from aortic surgery takes time. That said, for most the surgeries are quite successful. Most patients return to a normal, active lifestyle after they have recovered.

Risks and Complications

As is with any surgery there are risks associated with aortic surgery. The following is a list of the most common risks and complications:

  • Reaction to anesthesia or medication
  • Blood clots
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Arterial damage
  • Organ damage
  • Nerve damage
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Death

Contact your physician if any of the following occur:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Irregular, slow or fast pulse
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Severe persistent headache
  • Persistent Cough
  • Cough with green, yellow or bloody mucus
  • Weight gain of 2 pounds in one day
  • Surgical wound is red, swollen, warm or open
  • Drainage of surgical wound is green, yellow or foul smelling
  • Fever is above 101 degrees
  • Medications are problematic

When taking blood thinners report the following to your doctor:

  • Serious fall
  • Bumping on head
  • Bruising
  • Bleeding
  • Nosebleeds
  • Excessive gum bleeding
  • Bloody or dark urine or stools
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Infection
  • Fever
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pregnancy or planned pregnancies