For this procedure, an artificial graft (generally made of Dacron™) is used to replace part or all of the descending aorta (the main vessel connected to the heart and that transports blood to the rest of the body). This procedure is necessary when part or all of the descending aorta has become dilated and there is a risk that the aorta will rupture, an event that is potentially fatal. The goal is to replace the aorta before the patient presents with symptoms.
Surgery to replace the descending aorta lasts 2 to 5 hours.
The MHI will contact surgical patients at home to plan a pre-admission meeting. If you are unable to attend one of these meetings, you can still get a lot of useful information about your procedure in the MHI's Heart Surgery: Patient's Handbook. If you have concerns before the surgery, you can contact the nurse working with your surgeon at 514-376-3330, extension 4062.
For this procedure, patients must be hospitalized in the Surgical Unit the night before the procedure or must arrive early the morning of the operation. The required exams are as follows: blood work and biochemical analysis, coronary angiography, chest X-ray, cardiac ultrasound and, if required, cardiac CT scan.
On the day of the surgery:
• You must be in a fasting state as of midnight the night before.
• A member of the care team will shave the required areas of the body.
• After being shaved, patients must wash with a disinfectant soap and put on a new hospital gown.
• The nurse will give patients their normal medication as well as medication to help them relax. The nurse applies a nasal cannula to administer oxygen.
• A patient service associate takes the patient to the operating room, where a specialist administers anesthesia.
This surgery lasts 2 to 5 hours, and patients are put under general anesthesia and on heart-lung bypass. Prolonged anticoagulant therapy (Coumadin®) is generally not required for this type of procedure. After the surgery, patients are transferred to intensive care for 24 to 48 hours.
Visits to intensive care are limited to one person for 5 minutes on the day of the surgery and for 15 minutes on the hour starting from 11:00 a.m. the next day.
After this period, patients are then transferred back to the Surgery Unit for 7 to 10 days. In this unit, patients can have visitors during normal visiting hours.
Patients normally see the surgeon 2 to 3 months after the procedure and are then followed by their family doctor or cardiologist. The main side effects are fatigue and shortness of breath, which will gradually disappear with exercise and a return to normal activities. Patients generally return to work after 3 months of recovery.