Gardening Enthusiast, GM Retiree and Heart Valve Surgery Patient
"With the new heart valve surgery, I did not need to have my chest bone cut. The scar was so small the home care nurse had to look for it."
Barely a Scar After Heart Valve Surgery
Linda Elizardo of Gladwin needed heart valve surgery, but she wanted to avoid the open heart procedure that used to be the only option.
“I was scared,” she said. “I didn’t want to think about having my chest bone cut.”
Conventional open heart surgery requires an 11- to 12-inch incision, and the chest bone (sternum) is cut down the center.
Then Linda found out she was a candidate for a new, minimally invasive type of heart valve surgery, and that she could have it near home, at MidMichigan Medical Center–Midland.
“I was excited. I first learned about the new surgery from a neighbor who brought me an article from the Internet,” she said. “When I found out they were introducing it at Midland, I was just tickled–still scared, but not like I had been.”
The new approach allows the surgeon to look directly at the patient’s heart through an incision only about 4 inches long. Positioned under the breast, the incision is hardly noticeable once it heals.
Cardiovascular Surgeon Robert Jones, M.D., who leads the Medical Center’s open heart surgery program, performed Linda’s mitral valve annuloplasty, placing a ring-shaped medical device into part of Linda’s heart valve to help it close properly with every heart beat. Hers was the first minimally invasive heart valve surgery at the Medical Center.
Linda remarked on the care before and after surgery.
“Dr. Jones’ assistant described exactly what would happen,” she said. “Then I toured the floor I was going to be on, and a room like the one I’d stay in. The room was fantastic; all my visitors loved it.”
Linda gave her nurses special praise.
“They were so good to me; I can’t say enough about them. I worried about pain because pain medicine and I don’t get along. They worked with the problem and tried a lot of little things, and that worked,” she said. “I was actually surprised because thought I would be in a lot more pain."
Like other minimally invasive surgeries, the new procedures offer less pain, less risk of infection and a shorter recovery compared with conventional surgery. A few weeks after surgery, Linda was recovering well.
“I’m exercising on the Wii, doing some yoga and strength training and a little bit of walking. I worked out for 30 minutes yesterday. Today I’ll do 35,” she said. “I’m feeling a lot better.”
And her incision healed so well that the home nurse who came to visit looked and asked her, “Where’s your scar?”
If you or a family member has been diagnosed with a heart condition that may require surgery, ask your doctor for a referral to a MidMichigan cardiovascular surgeon, or call the MidMichigan Health Line for physician referral at (989) 837-9090 or toll free (800) 999-3199. To learn more about MidMichigan’s heart program, visit www.midmichigan.org/heart or call the number above for a free brochure.