Are Patients Cold After Bypass Heart Surgery ?  

Bypass heart surgery is a common type of heart surgery. More than 260,000 people undergo bypass surgery successfully in the United States every year. The techniques of heart surgery were initially learnt by the surgeons during the second word war.

But they could not carry out these techniques because it was difficult to do surgery on a beating and a moving heart. This knowledge remained dormant till certain advances were made in medical science.

Two major advances changed the scenario. First one is the availability of a heart lung machine which can take over the job of the heart temporarily and the heart can be stopped and operated upon during this period. Second one is the body cooling technique that allows more time for the surgery without causing brain damage.

The cooling techniques permit surgeons to stop the heart for long periods without causing damage to the heart tissue. When the temperature is reduced, it reduces the heart’s need for oxygen hence it avoids the possibility of any damage to the heart. There are two methods employed for cooling the heart. Blood is cooled as it passes through the heart lung machine. As this blood passes through different parts of the body, lowers body temperature. In addition, cold salt water (saline) is poured on the heart.

During the bypass surgery, the breast bone is divided and the heart is stopped. Blood is sent through a heart lung machine. There is no need to open the chambers of the heart during this procedure. The surgery involves sewing a section of a vein from the leg or arteries of the chest to bypass a part of diseased coronary artery. This creates an alternative route for the blood to flow. 

As the blood is cooled during the bypass heart surgery procedure, patient remains cold when the procedure is completed.

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