Open Heart Surgery

Open Heart Surgery

Open Heart Surgery in India: Types of Surgeries, Recovery, Costs and Best Doctors

Open Heart surgery, also known as Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting (CABG), is a surgical procedure that is performed to treat narrowed or blocked arteries in the heart. During this procedure, the surgeon makes an incision/cut on the chest and the breastbone (sternum), spreads the ribs to reach the heart, and replaces the blocked artery with a healthy artery taken from other parts of the body. During this operation, the patient is placed on a heart-lung bypass machine to make the heart stop temporarily.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), thousands of Africans travel out of their countries seeking advanced medical treatment for serious diseases and illnesses. Every year hundreds of patients from Kenya, Congo, Ethiopia, and Nigeria travel to India for their cardiac surgeries because of Premium and Cost-Effective healthcare services. Kenyan patients receive high-class treatment for various illnesses in India, at a low cost as compared to other countries.

An alternative to CABG is “minimally invasive CABG” where a small incision is made between the ribs without cutting the bones. During this operation, the patient’s heart is beating during the operation, and most of the time there is no need to put the patient on a heart-lung bypass machine.

According to JCI- Joint Commission International, which is an organization for healthcare accreditation that ensures patient safety, there are 45 JCI-accredited hospitals in India. One of them is Apollo Hospital, whose headquarters is in Chennai, Tamil Nadu with more than 60 locations throughout India. They have their scheme for health insurance and they have tied up with 10 international health insurance companies to assist international patients to cover the medical cost. Also, India produces generic pharmaceutical drugs at an affordable price as compared to the West.

Types of Open Heart Surgery in India

Depending upon the patient’s condition, the doctor decides the best cardiac treatment. Some of the most commonly performed Open Heart Surgeries and the types of open heart surgery are as follows:

1. Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting (CABG)

It is the most common type of heart surgery. A damaged heart artery is replaced by a healthy artery which is taken from another part of the patient’s body such as legs, arms, etc. Your surgeon will make an incision on the chest to get access to the heart. The doctor will put the patient on a heart-lung bypass machine until the surgery is completed. General anesthesia is given to the patient for a comfortable and painless procedure. An alternative to this procedure is a minimally invasive approach in which, instead of one big incision, small cuts are made to treat the condition.

2. Open Heart Bypass Surgery

The open-heart surgery and open-heart bypass surgery are similar. However, there is a slight difference in both of these surgeries. Open-heart surgery is not always performed to operate the heart. It could be done to operate any other area beneath your chest. However, Open Heart Bypass Surgery is a procedure that is specific to the heart, it is a type of open-heart surgery. It is done to replace a diseased artery with a healthy artery.

3. Implantation of a Pacemaker or Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD)

It is a procedure used to treat Arrhythmia or irregular rhythm of the heart. ICD is a device placed under the skin and is connected to the heart. It keeps track of the heartbeats and uses electric shock to restore normal heart rhythm. There are 2 types of ICD devices: a traditional ICD whose wires are connected to the heart and it is placed in the chest and a subcutaneous ICD which is placed under the skin below the armpit and is generally bigger than the traditional ICD.

4. Heart Valve Replacement Surgery

The heart valve is responsible for the normal flow of blood between different chambers of the heart. There are four valves of the heart. Defects in any one of the valves may require proper treatment. Heart valve replacement surgery is done to replace a defective valve with a mechanical valve or a biological valve from pig, cow, or human heart tissue. Depending on your valve condition, your doctor will suggest if you need a valve repair surgery or a valve replacement surgery. The valve repair surgery is less invasive as compared to the replacement surgery.

5. Heart Transplant

Untreated heart conditions or severity of heart conditions may lead to complete failure of the heart. Under such circumstances, a patient will need a heart transplant surgery. A heart transplant is a surgery where the diseased heart is replaced by the donor heart. It is a long procedure and you will be given anesthesia to make you unconscious during the surgery.

Those with severe heart failure may benefit from a heart transplant, in which a healthy heart is surgically implanted in place of the diseased one.

Open Heart Surgery Cost in India

The cost of cardiac surgery depends upon many factors like- type of treatment/surgery, choice of hospital, location, charges of your selected surgeon/doctor, health condition of the patient, etc. The average cost of heart surgery ranges between 1500 to 7000 USD. The list of average costs of most common heart surgeries in India is given below.

Type of Cardiac Surgery Cardiac Surgery Cost (USD)
Coronary Angioplasty(Stent Placement) 5000 - 5500 USD (One Medicated Stent)
CABG (Coronary Artery Bypass Graft) 5500 - 6000 USD
AVR(Aortic Valve Replacement) with Mechanical Valve 7000 - 7500 USD (One Valve)
Permanent Pacemaker (PPI) Single Chamber 1500 - 2000 USD
ASD/VSD Surgical Closure 6000 - 6500 USD

Disclaimer: The cost mentioned above is the average cost. The total cost may vary between different hospitals.

Best Open Heart Surgery Doctors in India

1. Dr. T S Kler


2. Dr. Ashok Seth

Dr Ashok Seth - Best Cardiologist in India

3. Dr. Naresh Trehan


4. Dr. Kewal Krishan

Dr Kewal Krishan - Heart Transplant and LVAD Heart Surgeon in India

When Will Your Doctor Suggest an Open Heart Surgery?

CABG is performed to restore blood flow to the heart. If other measures taken immediately are ineffective, surgery may be performed as an emergency therapy for a heart attack. If you have the following conditions, your doctor may suggest coronary artery bypass surgery:

  • A clot has formed in the major artery leaving the heart (the left one).
  • Narrowing of the major artery supplying blood to the heart.
  • Extreme discomfort in the chest is brought on by the constriction of one or more of the heart's arteries. This constriction causes a decrease in blood flow to the heart, which is felt during even little exertion or while at rest.
  • Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) or Multivessel coronary artery disease and left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH)
  • Coronary artery blockage that requires surgery to unblock. Balloon angioplasty or stent placement can resolve this issue.
  • A failed angioplasty, whether or not a stent was used.

Preparation Before the Open Heart Surgery

Your doctor must know everything about your health and fitness. He should be well informed about what you incorporate in your body and how your body reacts to it.

Firstly, inform your doctor about all the medication you are taking without prescription such as food supplements or other medicines. Secondly, inform them if you are sick or have other health conditions. Thirdly, your doctor will recommend that you abstain from smoking and blood-thinning drugs for two weeks before surgery.

Before you go in for surgery, you and your doctor should discuss your alcohol intake. It's possible to experience alcohol withdrawal if you regularly consume three or more daily drinks and suddenly cut down shortly before surgery. Seizures and tremors are two examples of postoperative problems that this might cause. To lessen these possibilities, your doctor may assist you through alcohol withdrawal.

You may be instructed to use certain soap the day before surgery. Using this soap before surgery may help reduce the risk of skin infection afterward. Similarly, you can be told to abstain from all liquids and food after midnight. When you arrive at the hospital for surgery, your healthcare professional will provide further instructions.

During Open Heart Surgery Procedure

The patient’s heart needs to stop temporarily so that the doctor can operate the heart during the surgery. To achieve this, a heart-lung bypass machine is connected to your heart which will maintain blood pumping through your veins and arteries. This is known as on-pump surgery.

If the surgery can be accomplished by minimally invasive CABG, then there will be no need for the heart-lung bypass machine. The doctor will perform the surgery while the patient’s heart is beating. This is known as off-pump surgery.

Your doctor will decide whether you need CABG or minimally invasive CABG depending upon your condition and what is best for you. In general, your surgeon will follow these steps:

  • Make an incision of about 6-8 inches on the chest.
  • Creating space between the ribs by cutting through the breastbone.
  • Connect your heart with the bypass machine, and give you medication to stop your heart beating temporarily.
  • Performs the surgery.
  • Facilitating the restoration of normal cardiac function.
  • Taking you off of the heart-lung machine.
  • Closing the breastbone with metal wires.
  • Stitches the surgical incision on the chest with sutures.

Post Open Heart Surgery Recovery

Cardiac surgery patients often need between six and eight weeks for the early phase of their recovery. Your medical staff will advise you on what to do at home to speed up your recovery after you leave the hospital. Some examples of these are:

  • When to do anything and how much effort is good.
  • In case there are particular foods you need to stay away from.
  • Instructions for practicing breathing exercises.
  • Your appointment date for stitch removal.
  • Quantity of water required.
  • When it's safe to take a shower after surgery.

Homecare After Open Heart Surgery

After the successful completion of the procedure, and at the time of discharge from the hospital, your healthcare provider will guide you about the medicines they may prescribe you to take for a certain amount of time post-surgery. They will also guide you about what lifestyle changes you should make to avoid any complications in the future, and to improve your overall health. Try to resume your routine as soon as you come home. Having things seem regular again can help you stay awake and active while healing your body. If you have any concerns after getting home, don't hesitate to contact your healthcare providers.

What Symptoms Might You Experience After Open Heart Surgery?

Some of the common symptoms the patient might experience post-surgery are:

  • Clicking or rubbing sound in the chest while breathing or doing movement. This usually stops after complete recovery.
  • Painful enlargement or a knot-like mass above the surgical incision on your chest. In most cases, this clears up within a few months.
  • Tingling sensation or numbness in the arm. The proper position of your arm during the operation can prevent this.
  • Experiencing pain at the incision site of your thigh, chest, or neck. Depending on the individual, this might linger for many weeks before gradually improving.
  • While in the hospital and going home, you may find it difficult to get to sleep. Common causes include not getting enough physical activity, cutting down on daily activities, worrying excessively about the upcoming operation or staying at home, dealing with family issues, feeling down, and having pain or discomfort around the wound.
  • Slight swelling in the legs that may persist for a few weeks to months. This issue can be improved by elevating the legs above the heart level when sitting or sleeping.
  • You may experience constipation due to some medicines. Incorporating regular exercise and a fiber-rich diet is proven to be helpful for good gut health.

Are there Any Alternative Options of Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery?

Your doctor may be able to avoid CABG by first trying one of the less invasive alternatives.


A surgeon inserts a special tube with a deflated balloon linked to your coronary arteries. Once it's in place, the balloon is inflated to open up previously inaccessible spaces. These procedures are often performed in tandem with the implantation of a stent, a tube made of wire mesh that keeps an artery open. In addition to traditional balloon angioplasty, laser angioplasty is available to clear arterial plaque.

The use of minimally invasive techniques in cardiac surgery

Your chest will have many tiny incisions made by the surgeon. The procedure is similar to a conventional bypass operation in that veins from the leg or arteries from the chest are attached to the heart. However, in this scenario, your surgeon will make tiny incisions, insert the tools through them, and utilize a video monitor to direct him while he operates. The heart continues to beat normally, unlike with bypass surgery.


Open Heart Surgery in India is cost-effective as compared to other countries like Europe and America, as well as its success rate is also comparatively high. In addition to this, patients receive full support pre-surgery, during the surgery, and post-surgery. India's cardiology hospitals have the most up-to-date infrastructure and equipment, which boosts the treatment process. India possesses highly qualified doctors and advanced equipment. The treatment in India is approved by WHO-World Health Organization and FDA-Food and Drug Administration.

The Indian Healthcare Organizations are taking steps to collaborate with hospitals in Africa. They are investing in Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mauritius and Mozambique.

The tele-communication such as tele-education and tele-medicine facilities promoted Pan-African e-Network to make sure that the African patients treated in India are receiving continuous aftercare. Tele-education means one can obtain lessons through voice calls or video calls over an internet connection. Telemedicine helps to provide health care from distant locations over telecommunication devices. This is a great system that lets a patient access healthcare through hospitals in Africa tied up with hospitals in India.

Open Heart Surgery FAQs

What is the duration of the surgery?

The surgery could take about 3 to 6 hours, or sometimes even more depending on your procedure. Your doctor will inform you about all the details.

When do I start eating after this Surgery?

After the surgery is completed, you can slowly have water, ice chips, and sugar-free liquids for the next 24 hours.

What is the life expectancy after the surgery?

Most of the patients who undergo this procedure live 15 years before requiring further procedure, which is often stent implantation. If stent implantation is not possible, a second surgery may be done.

Post-surgery, can we resume our daily activities?

You have to take some time to recover after the surgery. You can resume normal daily activity after 2 weeks. The wound will take about 2 to 3 months to completely heal, so avoid heavy work.

What is the success rate of this surgery?

The success rate and the survival rate of this surgery are 97% to 98%. However, Patients who already have other conditions may face few complications during and after the surgery.

How much walking after surgery is necessary?

You should walk at least three to four times a day after the procedure. On the day of your surgical procedure, a nurse or someone from physical therapy may help you do simple things like bed exercises or sit on the edge of your bed if it's safe. On the day after your surgical procedure, a nurse will help you sit up in a chair and take a short walk if it's safe. Every day, they will give you more to do. You will get a list of things to do to track your progress.

What is the typical recovery time for patients who have had this procedure done?

Patients undergoing open-heart surgery often recover in the hospital for four or five days. Healing the breastbone and chest muscles takes about a month after you leave the hospital as you slowly resume your daily activities.

How soon after the surgery is it safe to drive?

Most patients can go back behind the wheel about four weeks following surgery.

How much pain can I expect during/after the surgery?

You will feel tired and sore for the first few weeks after surgery. You may have some brief, sharp pains on either side of your chest. Your chest, shoulders, and upper back may ache. These symptoms usually get better after 4 to 6 weeks.

What aftercare will I receive from the hospital after the surgery?

After discharge from the hospital, the patient is usually given instructions about how to care for their chest and/or leg wounds. It is important to follow these instructions closely and to notify a healthcare provider immediately if there are questions or concerns.

Are there any restrictions to lifting weights after the surgery?

After surgery, you will not be able to lift anything over five pounds until cleared by your physician. If you had open-heart surgery, this will give your breast bone (sternum) time to heal.

Will I suffer from any mental illness such as depression after the surgery?

It is common to experience depression after any major surgery including heart surgery. It is important to take care of your mental and emotional health. Seek professional help from a therapist and remember asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. There is no shame in having mental and emotional struggles. It’s totally normal and even expected after a heart attack or heart surgery.

What should patients pay attention to in nutrition after bypass surgery?

After the surgery, attention should be paid to weight; dietitian support should be taken to achieve the ideal weight. Daily fat consumption should be reduced, fatty foods should be avoided, and a diet based on vegetables and fruits should be adopted. Lean meats should be chosen. Fish, chicken, and turkey should be given priority by reducing red meat consumption, and cooking methods such as boiling, grilling, and steaming should be preferred. Sugar and salt consumption should also be limited. When consuming milk and dairy products, fat-free products should be preferred. Fried foods and packaged foods are prohibited. Patients should be monitored regularly for blood sugar and cholesterol levels; those with high levels despite appropriate diet and exercise should be supported with proper drug therapy.

Can heart surgery be performed without cutting the chest bones?

Yes, heart surgery can be performed without cutting the sternum. Thanks to the developing medical technology, heart surgeries are served with a method called minimally invasive. Unlike open surgeries, which are accepted as standard and are performed by cutting the chest bones, small incisions are sufficient in these operations. With the help of small incisions (on armpits or under the breasts), heart valve replacement, repair of congenital holes in the heart, and coronary bypass surgeries are performed successfully. Although not widely applied yet, robotic surgery also allows the operation to be performed by opening only small incisions, together with the minimally invasive method. Both of these methods allow surgeons to reach the heart without any problems. Thanks to the small incisions after the surgery, the patient heals faster. When these methods are applied, the patient's suitability and the disease's condition for the operation are essential criteria.

How much does open heart surgery cost in India?

The cost of surgeries may differ from region to region. The average cost of heart surgery is between 1500 to 7000 USD in India. The cost of CABG is around 5500-6000 USD, whereas the cost of implanting devices goes up to 3624.67 USD. The average cost of cardiac surgery is around 90,000 USD in the UK and 55,000 USD in the US, while it costs only 7000-7500 USD in India.

To what extent and for how long should postoperative patients rely on compression stockings?

Compression stockings are recommended to wear after the surgery to prevent the formation of blood clots in the legs post-surgery. Try to resume your routine as soon as you come home. Having things seem regular again can help you stay awake and active while healing your body. If you have any concerns after getting home, don't hesitate to contact your healthcare providers.