“When Is The Heart And Sternum Healed?” Asks Kerrigan
By Adam Pick on March 19, 2009
Earlier today, Kerrigan and I exchanged emails about the recovery from open heart surgery. Specifically, we discussed the physical healing of the broken sternum and the heart.
In one of his emails, Kerrigan wrote, “I was wondering how long after surgery is the heart considered “healed” as far as the incisions and reattachment of aorta? Thanks, Kerrigan”
While I have some pretty good thoughts, research and experience on the healing time required for a stitched heart and broken sternum, I am ALWAYS APPREHENSIVE about issuing estimates for patient healing and recovery.
“Why?” you may be wondering.
Well… Healing and recovery is a personal, patient process. Some patients heal faster than others. And, conversely, some patients heal slower than others. I’m a good example. I was told by many people that I’d be fully recovered 8 weeks after the operation. Guess what? In my case, that was grossly inaccurate.
For this reason, I asked Kerrigan to contact his medical team to get their opinions on sternum and heart healing.
Shortly afterward, I received an interesting, follow-up email from Kerrigan that states, “Hi Adam: I had my baseline echocardiogram yesterday and the valve is doing fine, everything within parameters. The heart is slightly enlarged which is common with older patients who have a congenital defect. I asked about heart healing and was told that at 6 weeks the heart is considered fully healed. The sternum is considered fused enough for weight restrictions to be lifted at 3 months and completely rejoined at 6 months. The important cardiac rehab classes continue at 3 times a week now for my 12 week program. Thanks again for your website and your book!”
While Kerrigan’s note offers good, clinical insight into his original questions… Please, please, please remember that each patient case is unique and that healing rates vary patient-by-patient.
Keep on tickin!