Pericardiectomy: Is it an Open Heart Surgery? Let’s Know


Pericardiectomy: Is it an Open Heart Surgery? Let’s Know

So many misconceptions revolve around Pericardiectomy that confuse and scare people to undergo the process immediately. Thus, one should always be well informed about the process and mentally prepared without misinterpretation. Also, your medical practitioner knows more than you or anyone who doesn’t have expertise in it. So, do not fret if you are being recommended Pericardiectomy to fight a chronic condition related to your heart.

If you wonder whether Pericardiectomy is an open-heart surgery, let’s shed some light on it and answer all your queries in this article.

What is Pericardiectomy?

It is a medical procedure done in the sac around the heart. The surgeon starts the process by cutting away the sac or a large part of the sac that allows the heart to move freely. A fibrous sac surrounds the heart called a pericardium and has 2 thin layers with fluid between them. This fluid helps to reduce friction as the 2 layers of the sac rub against each other when the heart beats. Usually, the sac is thin and flexible, but the constant inflammation can cause it to become stiff and thick. When this happens, the heart doesn’t stretch properly as it beats. And this prevents the heart from getting as much blood as it needs. This leads to a lack of blood and can cause constrictive pericarditis and increased pressure in the heart. Once the sac is cut, it will allow your heart to fill in the blood normally again. This process is performed under general anaesthesia as the surgeon makes an incision over the chest bone to have easy access to the heart.

Is Pericardiectomy an Open-heart Surgery?

Yes, pericardiectomy is an open-heart surgery. Your surgeon removes your entire pericardium, and some surgeons prefer using a thoracotomy approach. In this approach, doctors make a cut between your ribs to get to your heart and a few use a minimally invasive approach as it limits how much of the pericardium your surgeon can reach.

Why is Pericardiectomy Surgery Performed?

Pericardiectomy surgery is often required in people with chronic constrictive pericarditis. People with a single instance of pericarditic are usually not recommended, but those with chronic constrictive pericarditis need the procedure to be performed immediately. Due to repeated scarring, the pericardium becomes stiff and thick as it constricts the heart’s movement. This condition can directly cause symptoms such as fatigue and swelling if not treated immediately. The following are the conditions that cause constrictive pericarditis:

  • Autoimmune health conditions
  • Cancer (that has spread in and around the heart tissue)
  • Infection in the heart or pericardial sac
  • Inflammation in the pericardial sac due to a heart attack
  • Chest radiation therapy
  • Reactions due to some medicine
  • Underactive thyroid or other metabolic causes

Also, in some cases, the cause of constrictive pericarditis is unknown.

In case you experience severe symptoms that need immediate attention, you may need to undergo pericardiectomy. Medicines may not help subside your symptoms if you have chronic constrictive pericarditis. Your doctor may advise you of pericardiectomy surgery if other therapies cannot resolve the solution.

Types of Treatment for Pericardial Constriction

Patients with not so severe complications or less pericardial constriction can be treated with anti-inflammatory medications. In the case of an advanced condition, surgery is the best resolution in order to remove the blockage and help the heart function normally..

Recovery from Pericardiectomy

It is a long process to recover from pericardiectomy and most of the patients who have undergone the process have to stay in the hospital for up to 7 days. One has to take precautions such as not lifting heavy objects until further instructions from the treating doctor as it usually takes 1-2 months to recover from a pericardiectomy. People with severe pericarditis may need more time to fully recover.

Also, it is suggested that regular follow ups after the procedure are taken care of as an echocardiogram shows how well the heart is functioning. If it is not functioning properly, your doctor will evaluate and recommend the best course of treatment for you to recover.

Summing Up

Emergencies can strike anytime without any prior intimation, but there is always a way to mitigate it. If you are equipped with comprehensive health insurance for pericardiectomy surgery, you will not have to shell out your savings on such a hefty treatment. Care Health Insurance’s Critical Mediclaim policy can be a good option in case of an emergency asPericardiectomy is one of the 32 illnesses that is covered under this plan. Under a critical insurance policy, you will get lifelong protection at an affordable premium with an option to pay your premium with a monthly or quarterly payment option. 

Disclaimer: The above-mentioned information is for reference purposes only. Please refer to your policy's fine print for more information about the process.

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