Cardiothoracic surgeons operate the lung and heart after diagnosing diseases that affect these organs. As the name suggests, heart and lung specialists perform both lung and open-heart surgeries.
In this guide, we’ll look at some heart and lung surgery procedures, diagnosis, what to expect, and treatment.
Adult Congenital Heart Defects
Congenital heart defects refer to cardiac conditions that are present during birth and are caused by an abnormal heart structure. These defects develop when the fetus is growing in the womb. Common symptoms of the defects include exercise intolerance and shortness of breath.
Below is an overview of adult congenital heart defects:
This condition occurs when the aorta narrows at one location, leading to restriction of blood flowing via the aorta. Symptoms of the condition include chest pains, nose bleeding, and headache.
Congenital Valve Defect
This defect happens when the valves haven’t formed properly before birth. The condition may occur due to the leaflets not attaching correctly to the annulus or improper size. Congenital valve defects usually affect the pulmonic or aortic valve.
Pulmonary Artery Stenosis
This defect arises when the pulmonary arteries transporting impure blood into your lungs narrow, making it difficult for blood to flow into the lungs.
Diagnosing Congenital Heart Defects
Heart surgeons diagnose congenital heart defects by listening to heart murmurs. The surgeons use a stethoscope and carry out the following tests:
- Electrocardiogram – This test is done to detect heart abnormalities, like enlargement of the heart chamber.
- Positron Emission Tomography – In this test, radioactive materials are injected into the veins to assess how blood flows to different parts.
- Echocardiogram – This test evaluates how the heart is functioning.
Treatment of Congenital Heart Defects
The severity and type of heart disease will determine the treatment to be administered. Mild heart defects do not require medication, while serious conditions may require invasive procedures, such as surgery.
Heart tumors are abnormal lumps that are adjacent to or present inside the heart. There are three types of heart tumors:
- Tumor – An abnormal growth which can be non-cancerous or cancerous
- Vegetation – A microbial infection
- Thrombus – A blood clot
Heart tumors are diagnosed using CT scans, MRI scans, and echocardiography.
Heart tumors can damage the valves or cause blood flow obstruction. Surgical removal can be performed using minimally invasive or open-heart techniques.
Minimally Invasive Surgery
Minimally invasive surgery involves the use of robotics. The procedure involves making three to four small incisions on the chest. Surgical instruments are joined to a tube that has a small camera and robotic arms and then inserted through the small incisions. The camera and robotic arms will then be controlled by a surgeon from a computer inside the theatre.
Minimally invasive surgery leads to a quick recovery and has less scarring and bleeding.
VATS (Video Assisted-Thoracoscopic Surgery) Lobectomy
In lobectomy surgery, a part of the lung is removed. Patients prefer this procedure because it results in quick recovery. However, lobectomy is only recommended for patients that are likely to develop complications from a thoracotomy.
If you’ve undergone chest surgery, VATS lobectomy may not be performed on you. This is because the scar tissues may make it difficult to reach your chest area. Moreover, the technique may not be recommended if you have a large tumor or it is located in the middle of the chest cavity.
To carry out a VATS surgery, the surgeons will conduct tests to determine whether lobectomy should be performed on you. The tests include PET/CT scans, breathing tests, blood tests, and electrocardiograms.
For a lobectomy, small incisions are made in the chest. Two other small incisions are also made for inserting the surgical instruments and camera.
What Patients Can Expect?
After the surgery, you’ll experience some pain but it won’t take long before you recover. The surgeon will instruct you on how to care for the wound, what to eat, and the tasks you can handle. Follow-ups will be scheduled to check the wound and your recovery.
You might experience difficulty in breathing and pain after the procedure. However, as the wound heals, the pain will go away. The functioning of your lung may also decrease but you’ll still be able to live a normal life. You should, however, stop smoking to prevent your lung from deteriorating further.
If you’re looking for a heart surgeon in Melbourne, contact Heart Surgeon Melbourne. Our heart surgeons offer various procedures such as heart transplant and aortic surgery. When you come to our facility, an experienced heart surgeon will diagnose your condition and recommend the best treatment for you. Our hospital also provides various treatment options for patients that require complex surgeries.