Cardiac Surgery Night

December 11, 2012 § 2 Comments

Screenshot from a href="">

Screenshot from

Two heart surgery procedures – one open, one closed – in their entirety. This is the full-length feature the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) offered their viewers last week. And it turned out be a night of public education on the complexities of surgery.

The "closed" minimally invasive procedure. Screenshot from

The “closed” minimally invasive procedure. Screenshot from

The two aortic valve replacements were both done at my hospital, the Oslo University Hospital. A traditional open surgery and a minimally invasive (“closed”) procedure had been recorded in their entirety by the NRK. In the broadcast they were shown side by side with the attention alternating between them at the different key points.

Studio discussion. Screenshot from

Studio discussion. Screenshot from

NRK’s strike of genius was to have a live running commentary, or rather a conversation, in the studio between the hostess and a senior cardiac surgeon. A much better solution for this wide audience than having the operating surgeons comment as they were operating. The hostess asked questions most lay people would wonder about, such as “doesn’t the guide wire hurt the blood vessels?” and “how was it like to cut through a sternum for the first time?”. The surgeon in the studio answered in an exemplary non-academic way, not afraid to address problems or difficult subjects.

The open procedure. Screenshot from

The open procedure. Screenshot from

An interesting thing, that I didn’t see coming, was that the programme came to explore the pros and cons of both minimally invasive and open procedures. My feeling is that the general public tend to view minimally invasive procedures as  “better” and more safe than open procedures. As the surgeons had great difficulties placing the guide wires and pace maker in the “closed” procedure, while the ones doing the open surgery worked swift and without delay, the advantage of the open field was quite clear to everyone who watched. A coincidence with the two chosen patients of course, but a good illustration of the complexities involved in choosing either procedure.

The programme is in Norwegian, but for those of you who would like to watch it, check outthe  links to some of the key moments in the two operations below, or watch the entire show here.

  1. Preparations
  2. The replacement valves
  3. Closed: Pacemaker insertion
  4. Open: Opening the thorax
  5. Open: Replacing valve
  6. Closed: How the valve is fitted
  7. Open: Removing air from the heart
  8. Closed: Animated procedure
  9. Closed: Balloon insertion
  10. Open: Highlights
  11. Closed: Complications

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