Cardiac Surgery started in the backdrop of significant difficulties in the early 20th century. Statements like ‘whosoever would operate upon the heart is out of his mind and should be banished from the surgical community’ exemplified a popular belief that this type of surgery was risky.
That was true as recently as 1975 for simple heart operations often did not succeed for 25% of patients. Research was mounted, technology galloped and knowledge flourished over the next 15 years. Rapid progress in science and technology reduced risk of cardiac surgery and ensures smooth postoperative recovery.
From 1953 when the current saga of open-heart surgery started with a risk of 66%, to 1975 when the risk was reduced to 25%, to 1995 when the risk reduced to nearly 8% across the world was a remarkable period. Knowledge, science, technology and techniques have continued to improve, and in the last 10 years we have come a long way. Most good hospitals conduct heart surgery with average risk of < 1% for all but the most complicated cases. Often we operate upon 150-200 patients without losing even one.
It is important to look at the figures from the survival angle too; while survival was only 75% some thirty years ago, it improved dramatically to 92% ten years ago and two years ago we breached the 99.4% survival mark.
The patients undergoing heart surgery nowadays are much more complex and older; the operations are more complexas well. It is thanks to the hard work, knowledge and skills of the heart surgery teams that we are beginning to start talking of “100% success”. That can’t be too far in the future looking at the rate of improvement in the last decade.
Another relatively little known fact is that almost centers with full time specialists have more or less uniformly good results; gone are the days when one had to travel to the few well known centers in the world for heart surgery.
Heart surgery is dangerous
Heart Surgery is safe, 99.4% of patients survive the operation and live a better and longer life.