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Surgery for Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy: Why Choose Penn?

Penn Medicine’s cardiac surgeons have more expertise performing septal myectomy for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) than anyone in the region. We are one of just a few centers in the nation that perform this procedure. More patients choose us because of our:

  • Endorsements: We are accredited by the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Association, earning the Center of Excellence distinction.
  • Surgical volume: As a regional referral center for HCM, we treat a large number of patients each year. This extensive surgical experience translates to excellent outcomes for our patients.
  • Dedicated program: Our Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Program provides patients with exceptional care before and after septal myectomy.
  • Genetic analysis: Our genetic counselors provide comprehensive genetic testing to family members of patients diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Treatment Overview 

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a type of heart failure that causes the heart muscle to become abnormally thick. HCM especially affects the walls of the lower heart chambers (ventricles). As a result, the heart pumps blood less effectively. Many patients with HCM also experience mitral valve regurgitation.

The first line of treatment for HCM is medication. When medication isn’t effective, your care team may recommend surgery. Septal myectomy is a surgical procedure to reduce the thickness of the wall (septum) separating the right and left ventricles. This widens the opening in the left ventricle through which blood flows out of the heart, delivering rapid symptom relief.

Septal Myectomy Procedure Details

Your cardiac surgeon performs septal myectomy in an operating suite. To begin, a cardiothoracic anesthesiologist administers general anesthesia to ensure you are resting comfortably throughout the procedure. Next, your surgeon:

  • Makes a 6- to 8-inch incision through the breastbone (sternotomy) to provide visualization of and access to the heart.
  • Connects you to a heart-lung machine (cardiopulmonary bypass). The machine takes over the function of your heart. 
  • Removes thickened muscle with specialized instruments.
  • Performs additional procedures. If your mitral valve needs repair, your surgeon will perform this as well. Learn more about mitral valve surgery.
  • Removes the heart-lung machine and closes the incision. You recover in a post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) before being transferred to the intensive care unit (ICU). Critical care doctors and nurses will monitor you closely in the ICU. You will stay in the hospital for up to a week.

Septal Myectomy Treatment Alternative

For HCM patients who aren’t healthy enough to undergo open-heart surgery, your surgeon may recommend alcohol septal ablation. This less invasive procedure delivers benefit without the risk of surgery.

Heart Transplant: Treatment for Advanced Heart Failure From HCM

If HCM symptoms aren’t resolved with septal myectomy, Penn’s cardiac surgeons provide life-improving and lifesaving treatment options, including heart transplant. Our team delivers leading-edge care to thousands of people living with heart failure. Learn more about the Penn Heart Failure Program.

Cardiac Rehabilitation

Your cardiac surgeon may recommend cardiac rehab to speed your recovery after surgery. Penn’s outpatient cardiac rehab specialists provide gentle exercises, education and nutrition support to help you improve your stamina and quality of life.

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