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What To Expect Before Total Artificial Heart Surgery

Before you get a total artificial heart (TAH), you’ll likely spend at least a week in the hospital to prepare for the surgery. You might already be in the hospital getting treatment for heart failure.

During this time, you’ll learn about the TAH and how to live with it. You and your loved ones will spend time with your surgeons, cardiologist (heart specialist), and nurses to make sure you have all the information you need before surgery. You can ask to see what the device looks like and how it will be attached inside your body.

Your doctors will make sure that your body is strong enough for the surgery. If they think your body is too weak, you may need to get extra nutrition through a feeding tube before the surgery.

You also will have tests to make sure you're ready for the surgery. These tests include:

  • A chest CT scan. This test is used to make sure the TAH, which is fairly large, will fit in your chest. Before you have surgery, your doctor will make sure there's enough room in your chest for the device.
  • Blood tests. These tests are used to check how well your liver and kidneys are working. Blood tests also are used to check the levels of blood cells and important chemicals in your blood.
  • Chest x ray. This test is used to create pictures of the inside of your chest to help your doctors prepare for surgery.
  • EKG (electrocardiogram). This test is used to check how well your heart is working before the ventricles are replaced by the TAH.
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Last Updated: July 6, 2012