Who are the most common candidates for cardiothoracic surgery?
Any patients who have coronary disease, valve disease, aneurysm of the aorta, reoperation for patients who had previous heart surgery, and patients who are born with a hole in the heart. When patients live long enough after heart surgery, few will need repeat heart surgeries. We also perform minimally invasive heart surgery for patients who are the right candidates for the procedure.
Candidates who previously did not have a surgical option for aortic valve disease, may now be candidates for TAVR (Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement). This allows patients who would not do well with open-heart surgery to have a minimally invasive procedure to replace the heart valve. Patients usually spend two to four days in the hospital and can expect to return to normal activity within a week or two. We bring a team approach to these surgeries with a multidisciplinary group of doctors.
What is the surgery like, from a patient’s perspective?
For any person, going through a major surgery can cause psychological and physical stress. Surgeons spend considerable time allaying patients’ fears about surgery, making them understand the operation and the need for the procedure.
Cardiac surgeries can run from three or four hours to eight or 10 hours, depending on the complexities. When patients need combined procedures, like bypass and valve or valve and aneurysm, or reoperation, the operation can take a longer time.
What is the post-operative period like?
After completion of the surgery, patients always go to a specialized cardiac surgery unit, which is staffed by specially trained nurses. Typically, 90 percent of the patients are sitting in a chair the following day. The majority of the patients go home within four or five days. This timeframe depends on how old the patients are and how complex the surgery is. We always encourage family and friends to be involved actively when patients convalesce after discharge. Also, the Mended Hearts Association has been very supportive to patients after surgery.
What criteria should patients use when evaluating cardiothoracic surgeons?
Consider years of experience, outcome of the surgeries, and word of mouth. The New York State Department of Health website (www.health.ny.gov) has information about every surgeon who performs heart surgery, as well as their outcomes.
What about cardiothoracic surgery most excites you and makes you love doing what you do?
I had a desire from age 11 to be a heart surgeon. Most of my life has been devoted to heart surgery. The whole body depends on the well functioning of the heart. Fixing heart ailments that require surgery and providing a better quality of life to patients are very rewarding experiences. I have some patients who had heart surgery more than 30 years ago and are still doing well. A patient’s participation in better care after the surgery is the key for long-term success.
I have been named on the “Top Doctors” list by Castle Connelly for more than 10 years, and I also have one of the lowest mortality rates for cardiac surgery, according to the NYS Department of Health: Adult Cardiac Surgery in New York State 2010-2012 Report. Heart surgery is my passion.
Dr. Sarabu has been Director and Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Vassar Brothers Medical Center since 2006, where he has played a significant role in expanding VBMC’s cardiothoracic surgery program, which is the first and only cardiothoracic surgery center in the Mid-Hudson Valley.
Vassar Brothers Medical Center
Health Quest Medical Practice, P.C.
1 Columbia Street, Suite 300
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
TTY /Accessibility: (800) 421-1220
Read Past Topics from Dr. Sarabu:
Cardiothoracic Surgery Heals the Heart
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