Total Artificial Heart What to Expect During Surgery
The surgery to connect the total artificial heart (TAH) is complicated and can last from 5 to 9 hours.
As many as 15 people might be in the operating room during the surgery, including:
- Surgeons, who do the operation
- Surgical nurses, who assist the surgeons
- Anesthesiologists, who give you medicine that makes you sleep during the surgery
- Perfusionists, who oversee the machine that keeps blood flowing through your body, the heart lung bypass machine, while the TAH is placed in your chest
- Engineers, who assemble the TAH and make sure that it is working well
Steps to connecting the TAH device
- An anesthesiologist gives you medicine to make you sleep before the surgery. During the surgery, the anesthesiologist checks your heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen levels, and breathing.
- A breathing tube is placed in your windpipe through your mouth. This tube is connected to a ventilator machine that supports your breathing during the surgery.
- The surgeons give you medicines to stop your heart so they can operate on it while it is not moving. A heart-lung bypass machine keeps oxygen-rich blood moving through your body during the surgery.
- The surgery begins with a cut into your chest bone to get to your heart. Your surgeons open your ribcage, remove your heart’s ventricles, and attach the TAH to the upper chambers of your heart and to the aorta and the pulmonary artery. When the TAH is attached, the surgical team turns off the heart-lung bypass machine and activates the TAH so it starts pumping.
- If the TAH is working properly and you do not have unusual bleeding, the surgeon closes your chest again. In some cases, it remains only partially closed for a few days.
- The medical team fully closes the chest once additional tests confirm that everything is working as it should.
Heart-Lung Bypass Machine