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USC - University of Southern California Cardiothoracic Surgery at University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine
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Glossary of Terms

Open Heart Surgery
Most people think that any surgery being done on the heart is "open heart surgery", but technically only heart operations, in which a part of the heart is opened, is called "open heart surgery". All open heart surgeries require the use of the heart-lung machine to support the patient while the heart is being operated upon. Examples of open heart surgeries include valve repair or replacement, closure of congenital defects, repair of ascending aortic dissections and aneurysms, and repair of some complications of heart attack. Coronary artery bypass grafting surgery is technically not an "open heart operation" since only the arteries, which lie on the surface of the heart, are operated on, while the heart cavities are not opened.


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