Open Heart Surgery Cost
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Open Heart Surgery Cost

Heart surgery or open heart surgery is a procedure that is used to treat or address heart issues. It requires the complete opening of the thoracic wall in order to make the heart easier to reach. The sternum is cut through and the ribs are spread, this is sometimes referred to as cracking open the chest. Open heart surgery is a reliable way of performing heart surgeries, it is only recommended if the patient is strong enough to withstand the strain of it. Open heart surgery is not the only way to carry out surgical procedures aimed at treating the heart. There are other ways of accessing the heart that are less invasive that do not involve the opening of the chest wall, these procedures grant access to the heart through small incisions between the ribs via special tools passed through these incisions.

open heart surgery
Picture courtesy: Verywell Health

What are the procedures that open-heart surgery can correct?

Open heart surgery may be required when an individual has the following heart conditions:

What are the types of open-heart surgery?

There are two main ways of performing open-heart surgery, they are:

  • On-pump – during the procedure, a heart-lung bypass machine connects to the heart and temporarily takes over the work of the heart and lungs. It circulates blood through the body while also taking blood away from the heart. The surgeon is now free to operate on a heart that is not pumping any blood. The surgeon then disconnects the machine and the heart resumes functioning after.
  • Off-pump – an off-pump bypass surgery occurs while the heart is still beating and pumping blood. This approach is only used for a coronary artery bypass grafting surgery. This may be referred to as beating-heart surgery.

Summary of an open heart surgery procedure

Before the open-heart surgery, there are some procedures that are done on the individual. They include:

  • Chest X-rays, an EKG or other tests that help the operating team to plan the surgery procedure
  • The chest is shaved
  • The surgical area is sterilized with antimicrobial soap
  • An IV is then placed into the vein in the arm, to provide fluids and medications.

The surgical procedure proper is quite complex, it may take up to six hours or even longer. The procedure is performed under a general anesthesia. The surgical steps differ depending on what is to be addressed and the steps that are needed to address it. Steps that may be taken include:

  • An incision is made on the chest, about 6-8 inches
  • The breastbone is cut and the ribs spread apart to access the heart
  • The heart is then connected to a bypass machine, an anesthesiologist then gives medication to stop the heart from beating
  • The heart issue is then addressed
  • Blood flow is restored and the heart resumes beating on its own, in cases where this does not happen, a mild electrical shock is used to restart it.
  • The bypass is then disconnected
  • The breastbone is then stitched together with wires
  • The skin incision is then stitched

Heart surgery recovery 

The recovery from open-heart surgery largely depends on the type of heart disease and the type of surgery that was performed. On the average, it takes about six weeks to recover from open heart surgery, in some cases it takes up to a year before there is normal resumption of normal activities. The individual that went through an open-heart surgery is usually given specific advice on post-surgery activities. Some of this advice is focused on:

  • Care of the surgery site
  • Alertness to detect any signs of an infection after the surgery
  • Physiotherapy and exercises that improve cardiac rehabilitation
  • Medication post operation
  • Follow up appointments and check-up
  • Lifestyle changes like new diet, exercise etc
  • Advice on how to react in the case of an emergency.

When should the doctor be called?

The health care provider should be notified if the individual experiences any of the following:

  • Abnormal chest pain
  • Fever
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Signs of stroke
  • Discomfort at the incision site
  • Signs of infection at the surgical site

What are the factors that influence the cost of an open-heart surgery?

The cost of an open-heart surgery depends on a lot of factors, they include:

  • The type of surgery required
  • The equipment and medication needed for the surgery
  • The sophistication of the hospital
  • The expertise and experience level of the cardiothoracic surgeon and his team
  • The heart condition being operated on and the health level of the patient
  • Length of hospital stay
  • Medication and additional tests required after the surgery
  • Room category in respect to the hospital’s billing policy

What is the cost of open-heart surgery?

For patients that do not have any health insurance, the cost of the most common type of heart surgery may range from about 30k-200k dollars or even more depending on the factors listed above. In the valuation, removal of a blockage falls in the lower end of the range estimate, heart bypass surgery falls on the mid range while the removal and replacement of a heart valve is in the higher range of costs. Heart transplant is about the highest in cost of heart surgery.

An estimate of an average cost of a common heart surgical procedure is around 62.5k dollars, and this is excluding the doctor fees. In the additional costs, patients require at least one session of physical therapy, which cost about 50-350 dollars per session. Various drugs are usually prescribed after the heart surgery; depending on the type of surgery they may prescribe blood thinners, beta-block, etc. These drugs will also add to the total cost of the surgery. Many hospitals will also give discount of up to 30% or more to uninsured or patients who are paying with cash.

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