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Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 18 years

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Heart operation in age 16

Ok so im a female and 16 i ve recently found out i need major heart surgury to replace one of my heart valves. I m really scared and not sure weather to go 4 it as my life is complete at the moment and i dont want 2 loose any of tht what would you do?????
Mon, 14 Dec 2009
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  User's Response
You are going to need surgery. The tradition, tried and true method leaves you with a large scar down the middle of the chest. But they are doing valve replacement through minimally invasive surgery now, so be sure to ask if that is an option. You want to ask your surgeon how many valve replacements has he done, and what his success rate is. Also ask how many valve replacements have been done in the hospital you will use. The higher those numbers, the better -- the *only* way a surgical team gets better is to practice! You also want a surgeon who is experienced in Congenital Heart Surgery -- congenital surgeons specialize in open heart surgery. A bypass is NOT open heart surgery, not even close! You want to have someone who is comfortable cutting into your heart and replacing that valve! A lot of the good Congenital Heart Surgeons are going to be pediatric surgeons, meaning they do most of their work on children. Don't worry about that -- most heart problems are surgically corrected when the patient is a child, so don't think you are being "cheated" if you get a pediatric surgeon. He might be the best person for the job. You can either get a living tissue replacement valve, or an artificial valve. A living tissue valve is usually a valve from a cow or pig, or occasionally from a deceased human. An artificial valve is just that -- a fake. The surgeon will try to respect your wishes if you tell him what kind of valve you want, but you have to understand that sometimes it's just not possible to give you exactly what you want. The pig valves available may not quite be the size he needs, and he may have to go with a cow valve or an artificial valve. He'll do his best to honor your choice, but things happen. You *may* be placed on a blood thinner after the operation, to make sure no clot forms on your new valve. This is pretty easy to deal with -- take your pill every day, and get a blood test once a month. If you need to change the dosage of the blood thinner, you'll be called and told how much to take. At first it will seem like they are changing it every month, but they WILL get it regulated and you'll be on the same dose from then on. Good luck!
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