Heart op date change

After driving back from rather intoxicating Christmas lunch to pick up my sister I get a call from Dr Kingsley (Zane’s surgeon). Well from his secretary. God forbid that he should call himself.

He will be on leave until the 6th of December when Zane’s op is on the 5th. We quite obviously had a small dilemma here.

She gave us the option of having the operation next week.(29th Nov) or on the 7th of December. We opted to go with the 7th when he would be around after the operation should anything go wrong he would be there to look after our special package.

It’s quite tricky preparing your mind for an operation at a specific date then having the doc screw things around.

*deep breath* think happy thoughts*

We are prepared to do anything to make sure everything goes well.

Check out the links on the left to see some photos of the boys and to read up on the heart operation.

– Bren

Zane’s Heart operation


I am sorry to be landing everyone with a group mail but I have just had so many phone calls and e-mails that it would take me forever to respond individually.

Bren and I cant thank you all enough for all your concern over the past 10 months and kind wishes for Zane’s upcoming surgery.
We saw his Paediatric Cardiologist Dr Dansky on Tuesday and we have booked the surgery with Dr Kinsly – SA’s top Cardithorasic Surgeon – for Tuesday 5th December. He will be in Sunninghill hospital – The Walter Sisulu Paediatric Cardiac Centre of Africa – for approximately 7 days.

I have had quite a few request with regards to the actual condition and the process of the surgery involved. So for those of you that feel like a read I have listed below a description of what Tetralogy of Fallot is and the process involved in the repair.

Thanks again …. all our love hugs and kisses

Brennan, Philippa, Trenton & Zane

What is Tetralogy of Fallot?

Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF) is congenital heart defect causing cyanosis, a bluish discoloration of skin caused by oxygen-poor blood reaching the general circulation. An embryologic failure of the right ventricular outflow tract to form properly results in the four cardiac abnormalities characteristic of TOF:

· Ventricular septal defect (VSD): An abnormal opening between the two lower chambers of the heart

· Pulmonic stenosis (PS): A narrowed area within the main pulmonary artery, at, above or below the pulmonary valve

· Malpositioned aorta: The entrance to the aorta overrides the VSD

· Ventricular hypertrophy: An overly muscular right ventricle

In the normal heart, oxygen-poor blood returns to the right side of the heart where it is pumped to the lungs to be oxygenated. In TOF, the pulmonic stenosis increases the resistance to right ventricular outflow. This can cause elevation of right-sided heart pressures that may result in oxygen-poor blood being diverted across the VSD to the left ventricle and into the aorta (“right-to-left shunt”). When the aorta carries “mixed” blood to the general circulation, less oxygen is available to the tissues and cyanosis can result. Without surgical intervention, most patients with TOF will not survive past early adulthood.

Congenital heart surgery: Day of surgery

For patients who are hospitalized the night before surgery, an intravenous (IV) catheter may be used. This allows intravenous fluids to be given once the patient is designated as nothing by mouth (NPO).
All patients — whether they are admitted to the hospital or not — will be placed on NPO status after midnight the night before surgery and should not have anything to eat or drink after that time. Clear liquids may be allowed with the specific instructions of the anesthesiologist.

On the morning of surgery, the family will meet staff, and the patient will be given a private waiting room.

Approximately one hour prior to surgery, the patient is taken to the holding area, dressed in a hospital gown, and placed in a crib or bed. The anesthesiologist will order medication either by mouth or IV that reduces anxiety and will make the patient sleep.

During surgery

The following steps commonly are followed in all types of congenital heart surgery.


The anesthesiologist and operating room nurses escort the patient into the operating room. A heart monitor is connected to the patient that shows the OR team a continuous read-out of the heart rate and rhythm throughout the surgery. The patient is given a mask that disperses a gas that brings on a deep sleep.

Once the patient is asleep, the anesthesiologist puts a breathing tube (endo-tracheal tube or ET tube) into the patient’s windpipe. This tube is attached to a breathing machine (ventilator) that does the breathing for the patient during surgery. Next, the anesthesiologist places several intravenous (IV) catheters in the patient’s veins (usually in the large vein in the neck or the groin). Intravenous fluids and medication are given through them throughout the operation.

Another special catheter — an arterial line — is placed in an artery to monitor blood pressure during and after surgery. This special catheter is used to draw samples of blood to obtain various laboratory values and usually is placed in the wrist or the groin. A nasogastric (NG) tube is placed in the nose and gently guided down to the stomach after the arterial line is in place. An empty stomach will continue to produce juices, which can lead to nausea and vomiting. The NG tube empties the stomach and prevents vomiting. Finally, a Foley catheter is placed in the patient’s urinary opening and guided gently to the bladder. This catheter is attached to a device that drains and measures the urine produced during surgery. This process may take from 60 to 90 minutes.

Once all the lines and tubes are in place, a transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) is performed. A cardiologist places a probe into the patient’s mouth and gently guides the probe down the esophagus. The TEE probe rests behind the heart and provides the surgeon with a continuous picture of the structures of the heart during the operation. When the TEE is completed, it is time for the surgeon to begin the operation.

Incision and operation

The type of surgical incision is based on the specific surgical repair.

· Median sternotomy incision: This type of incision is used for open-heart surgery (surgery that occurs inside the heart). This incision usually begins at or below the top of the breastbone (sternal notch) and goes straight down the sternum (breastbone). The breastbone then is separated to expose the heart.

The patient is placed on a heart-lung bypass machine, a device that provides blood flow to the body and bypasses the patient’s heart and lungs. Diverting the heart’s blood flow to the bypass pump allows the surgeon to open the heart and operate on the structures inside the heart. The heart-lung bypass machine provides continuous oxygenated blood to the other organ systems during the open-heart surgery. A certified perfusionist is dedicated to maintaining heart-lung bypass throughout the surgery.

Once the patient is on bypass, the surgical repair begins.

When surgery is complete, the patient is weaned off the heart-lung bypass machine until the newly repaired heart is managing all the blood flow. One to three chest tubes are positioned at the base of the incision to drain the surgical area. Temporary pacing wires are positioned on one or both sides of the incision that temporarily may be used to pace the heart rate and rhythm in the post-operative period.

Intracardiac monitoring lines may be placed depending on the type of surgical repair. These special catheters are placed in the chambers and vessels of the heart to provide the surgeon and the postoperative team with valuable information about the pressures within the heart and lungs. A postoperative TEE is performed that provides the surgeon with valuable information after the surgical repair. Once the TEE is completed, the surgeon closes the sternum. The sternal bone is brought together, and stainless steel wire secures the sternum. The type of skin closure the surgeon uses is dependent on age and weight:

· Clear, absorbable skin suture that runs the length of the incision on the inside of the chest. A clear knot is seen at the top and the bottom of the incision. To secure the outside of the incision, adhesive strips (steri-strips) are applied to the surface of the skin along the length of the incision.

· Surgical staples (occasionally used in larger patients)

· Thoracotomy incision: This is used for closed-heart surgery (surgery that occurs outside the heart). An incision is made on the side of the chest under the arm, extending up toward the shoulder blade. The ribs are separated to expose the heart or blood vessels. Because the procedure is performed on structures outside the heart, the heart-lung bypass machine usually is not be used, and blood continues to pump through the heart and lungs during surgery.

Once the incision is made, the ribs spread and the heart exposed, the surgeon performs a surgical procedure.

When the surgical procedure is complete, the ribs are brought back together, and a chest tube is placed to drain the surgical area. Temporary pacing wires and intracardiac lines are not used with thoracotomy procedures.

Generally, the type of surgical closure is an absorbable skin suture with the clear knot seen at both ends of the incision. To secure the outside of the incision, adhesive strips (steri-strips) are then applied to the surface of the skin along the full length of the incision.

Completion and transfer to recovery room

Regardless of incision type, after closure of the incision a dressing is placed that remains on the patient for the first 24 hours after surgery. The anesthesiologist and operating room nurses then secure all the patient’s tubes and lines, and transport the patient from the operating room to the cardiovascular intensive care unit (CVICU).