Description of the Procedure
First, the doctor will cut through the skin and breastbone. The chest cavity will be opened. Next, the heart will be connected to a heart-lung machine. This machine will take over the functions of the heart and lungs. The doctor will stop the heart to do surgery.
The pericardial sac around the heart will be opened. The doctor may remove a small part of this sac and use it to patch the hole. A cut will be made in the right atrium. A small hole will be closed with sutures. A larger hole will be covered with a patch that is made of the sac or other material. Once the defect is repaired, the doctor will close the incision. The heart will then be restarted. Once it is working fine, the heart-lung machine will not be needed. The doctor will close the chest cavity. Sutures will be used to close the skin.
At the Hospital
The hospital staff may:
- Do tests (eg, ECG, blood tests).
- Give pain medicine.
- Gradually transition your child to a normal diet.
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your child's chance of infection such as:
- Washing their hands
- Wearing gloves or masks
- Keeping your child's incisions covered
There are also steps you can take to reduce your child's chances of infection such as:
- Washing your hands and your child's hands often and reminding visitors and healthcare providers to do the same
- Reminding your child's healthcare providers to wear gloves or masks
- Not allowing others to touch your child's incisions
When your child returns home, do the following:
- If directed by the doctor, give antibiotics. This will help to prevent endocarditis. Also, give pain medicine as needed.
- Keep the incision area clean and dry. Avoid applying lotion or powder to this area.
- Have your child return to his normal diet.
- Ask the doctor about when it is safe to shower, bathe, or soak in water. Usually, you will want to avoid giving your child a bath or allowing him to shower for 10 days after surgery.
- Encourage your child to rest, especially during the first few days. He will slowly return to normal activities. Have your child avoid rough play.
- Dress your child in loose, comfortable clothing.
- If your infant had surgery, hold him by supporting his back and buttocks. Do not pull your baby up by the arms or under the arms.
- Follow all of the doctor’s instructions.
In about six months, the heart tissue will grow over the sutures or patch.