Heart surgery can be a scary journey, especially if you don’t know what to expect. This is why cardiothoracic surgeons, like Dr. Paul DiGiorgi, work closely with patients before they have heart surgery. “Education and expectation management is key to success. Whenever you do any kind of surgery it’s a stress on the whole body, especially when you’re sick with heart disease it really stresses the whole body.”
Before a patient has heart surgery, doctors run a full series of tests to evaluate the patient’s overall health. “If you have a problem with one organ it is a sign that there could be problems with other organs,” said Dr. DiGiorgi.
Doctors have designed a systemic approach to looking at the patient, from their medical history to their lifestyle, and examining all other organs preoperatively to make sure they are strong enough for surgery.
“Delirium and confusion is common postoperatively. A lot of that has existed preoperatively but it hasn’t been uncovered and people are compensating for that. So if we feel there is someone who is at risk for that we have special mental mini status exams,” said Dr. DiGiorgi.
If a patient shows a risk for postoperative confusion, doctors can adjust certain medications and warn the patient and family. “We have monitoring devices in the operating room and postoperatively to make sure the blood flow to the brain is appropriate and their blood pressure is ok,” said Dr. DiGiorgi.
Evaluating the entire patient before surgery ensures their safety during and after surgery. “Our ability now to take care of patients in a more detailed way postoperatively has improved their outcomes,” said Dr. DiGiorgi.
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