A heart-lung machine is usually used during open heart surgery. While the surgeon works on the heart, the machine helps send oxygen-rich blood to the brain and other organs.
- Your heart surgeon will make a 2-inch to 5-inch-long surgical cut in the chest wall. Muscles in the area will be divided so your surgeon can reach the heart. The surgeon can fix or replace a valve or perform bypass surgery.
- During endoscopic surgery, your surgeon makes one to four small holes in your chest. Then your surgeon uses special instruments and a camera to perform the surgery.
- During robot-assisted valve surgery, the surgeon makes two to four tiny cuts (about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch) in your chest. The surgeon uses a special computer to control robotic arms during the surgery. The surgeon sees a three-dimensional view of the surgery on the computer. This method is very precise.
You will not need to be on a heart-lung machine for these types of surgery. However, your heart rate will be slowed with medicine or a mechanical device. If there is a problem with these procedures, the surgeon may have to open the chest to do the surgery.