Adam's Heart Valve Surgery Blog

Get the latest news, patient advice and insights about heart valve surgery from Adam Pick, patient, author and website founder

What Is Your “Best Piece Of Advice” For Future Patients?

Hey everybody,

I could really use your help… I’m just finishing up the 2010 revision to my book, The Patient’s Guide To Heart Valve Surgery.

As many of you know, one of the current chapters in the book is titled “The Best Piece Of Advice”. In this chapter, I feature thoughtful comments, tips, tactics, tricks and strategies from many former heart valve surgery patients.

Needless to say, it’s a great chapter with some valuable ideas. That said, I wanted to add some more quotes from those who have already had heart valve repair and heart valve replacement surgery.

So… What is your “Best Piece Of Advice” for future patients and caregivers? To answer that question, simply click here to leave a comment. (Or, you can scroll down to read 15+ responses from recent patients and caregivers.)

In advance, thanks for taking the time to help out!!! Who knows… Maybe your ideas will be featured in the new edition of the book? đŸ™‚

Keep on tickin!

“What Happens During A Transesophageal Echocardiogram?” Asks Sophie

I just received a great, follow-up question about medical tests used to diagnose heart valve disease from Sophie.

Sophie writes, “Adam – Thanks for the recent blog about cardiac MRIs and echocardiograms. Unfortunately, my aortic regurgitation continues to become more severe. It looks like I’ll need surgery soon. To better diagnose it, I’ve been told I may need a transesophageal echocardiogram. Can you tell me what happens during a TEE? Is it painful? Thanks, Sophie”

To help Sophie better understand what happens during a transesophageal echocardiogram, I was super lucky to find an educational video that details this medical examination used to help diagnose heart valve disease.



If you have never heard the term before, a transesophageal echo uses an ultrasound transducer that is positioned on an endoscope and guided down the patient’s throat into the esophagus (the “food pipe” leading from the mouth into the stomach). The TEE test provides a close look at the heart’s valves and chambers, without interference from the ribs or lungs. TEE is often used when the results from standard echo tests are not sufficient, or when your doctor wants a closer look at your heart, according to The Cleveland Clinic.

I hope that helps Sophie (and perhaps you) learn a little more about transesophageal echocardiograms.

Keep on tickin!

“Sensitive Keloid Scars? Sternal Wire Bumps?” Asks Josh

Josh has an interesting set of questions regarding keloid scars and sternal wires.

As you can read below, Josh is specifically looking for help from our blog readers. Here is what Josh writes:

Hey Adam-

Things are going great 5 months after my aortic valve replacement and ascending aortic graft.  Most of the unpleasant sensations have subsided to a very manageable level. However, I do have an issue that I wanted to ask you and the blog members about…

I have two problem areas on my incision site that I saw my surgeon about today.  First, the bottom of my scar has a fairly large raised keloid (shown below) which is very sensitive to the touch.


Keloid Scar On Open Heart Surgery Incision Of Patient


Second, the top of my scar has a prominent bump that turns out to be part of the sternal wires that were used to fuse the bone that are sticking out.  Most of the time these wires are left in place, but my surgeon said they could do a removal.  He further added that if we were going to remove the wires, he’d have a plastic surgeon consult and help with the re-closure of the incision so as to try to avoid the keloid problem again.

Has anyone had any experiences with one or both of these issues?  My symptoms are not intolerable, but they are fairly uncomfortable.  I’m not looking forward to another surgery, but my understanding is that it’s a fairly simple outpatient procedure.

To leave me a comment, please scroll below!

Thanks and hope all’s well,


“When I Wake Up In The ICU, How Many Tubes Will Be Sticking Out Of Me?” Asks Gwen

I just received a fantastic question from Gwen about waking up in the intensive care unit after heart valve surgery.

She writes, “Adam – Thanks so much for all your help. While I’m still anxious, your support has made me feel somewhat ready for my upcoming heart valve operation. I have one more question for you about the intensive care unit. When I wake up from surgery, exactly how many tubes are going to be sticking in/out of me? Keep on tickin! Gwen”

Interestingly enough, this question triggered a very, very, very unique memory for me.


Me (Adam) In The Intensive Care Unit


So you know… My doctors and nurses did not explicitly detail the patient experience within the intensive care unit. Looking back on it, that would have really helped manage my expectation as I came out of general anesthesia.

Continue reading this post »

Video: Extacellular Matrix Used In Heart Valve Repair Surgery By Dr. Gerdisch

I’m fascinated by the different tools and technologies that help surgeons reconstruct the human heart.

On this point, I just came across an interesting video about the use of extracellular matrix for heart valve repair. In this educational video, Dr. Marc Gerdisch of the St. Francis Heart Center describes extracellular matrix and how it is being used to enhance tissue function in repaired mitral valves.

If you have never heard the term before, extracellular matrix is the extracellular part of animal tissue that usually provides structural support to the animal cells in addition to performing various other important functions. The extracellular matrix is considered one of the defining features of connective tissue in animals.

Thanks to Dr. Gerdisch, a heart valve surgeon from Indianapolis, Indiana, for taking the time to create this helpful video!

Keep on tickin!

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