Heart surgery step 1: Sawing through the sternum. Anesthetic doses given for heart surgeries are standard for any major surgery and have a component of analgesia, sedation, and paralysis.
All cardiac and respiratory parameters are carefully monitored and, once the patient is under, the surgeon gets out the saw.
The heart rests beneath the sternum the organ’s skeletal armor and the central bone to which ribs are attached. Cracking this bone requires pressure, power, and precision (but only about 30 seconds).
The most common type of saw used in heart surgery is an oscillating saw, which moves up and down at a rapid speed and works like a jigsaw, enabling the fine blade to cut curved lines.
Sometimes especially on patients who have had heart procedures done before, surgeons will use a saw that’s like the one used to remove casts. It stops immediately when it senses tissue.
Surgeons cut the sternum either completely or partially, straight down the middle, but they don’t remove it. They then slowly spread apart the cut halves of the sternum with a retractor, something similar to a brace. This allows the entire chest and heart to be open before them.
This is the first and most important step in heart surgery, and the oscillating saw plays a major role in it.
While better oscillating saw and less invasive procedures are all marked advancements in the field, doctors aren’t stopping there.
The most important thing to realize is that we are trying our best to minimize the trauma to the chest to allow patients to recuperate from the surgery a lot faster.