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Surgery for Adult Congenital Heart Disease

Depending on the type of congenital heart defect you have, your doctor may recommend surgery to repair it. Heart surgeons at NYU Langone’s Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program are experienced in treating adults with congenital heart disease, including those newly diagnosed and those who were diagnosed and treated during childhood.

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Closed Heart Surgery

Closed heart surgery is most often performed to repair defects that occur on the outside of the heart, such as coarctation of the aorta. Because the heart is not surgically opened, the heart and lungs do not need to be stopped during the procedure. This means that a heart–lung bypass machine, which pumps blood to the body during surgery, is not necessary.

Performed using general anesthesia, this type of heart surgery involves an incision between the ribs or in the chest. It may be the first of several surgeries to repair a heart defect.

Closed heart surgery can take two to three hours and typically requires recovery in the intensive care unit.

Open Heart Surgery

Your surgeon may use open heart surgery to repair heart defects that occur inside the heart. In this type of surgery, which is performed using general anesthesia, your surgeon makes a large incision in the chest and opens the sternum, or breastbone, using surgical tools. A heart–lung bypass machine performs the work of these organs during the procedure, pumping blood to the body.

After this surgery, you remain in the intensive care unit for several days for monitoring. During recovery at home, your doctor may advise you not to drive for 2 to 4 weeks and avoid lifting anything heavier than 10 pounds for up to 6 weeks.

Heart Transplant

If your heart no longer functions without medical assistance, you may be a candidate for a heart transplant. In this surgery, performed by doctors at NYU Langone Transplant Institute, doctors remove a severely diseased and failing heart and replace it with a healthy heart from a donor.

Doctors at NYU Langone can perform heart transplant evaluations and refer you to specialists at other medical centers for care.

Our Research and Education in Adult Congenital Heart Disease

Learn more about our research and professional education opportunities.