CC was an easy choice as it is the top heart hospital. I then reviewed all of their surgeons on line via their site. I think any of the surgeons there would be a great choice. Dr Gillinov stood out to me based on his academic (first in class at Johns Hopkins) and medical training; his position on the staff relative to his age was impressive also. In addition, having chosen a bovine valve for my replacement; I will have to do this again in 15-20 years. Dr Gillinov is young enough that he can do my second surgery when it is time. He has done more than 2500 valve surgeries, so this is what he does. I did not want someone who did this surgery twice a month when I could pick a surgeon who did this surgery twice a day.
It does add cost to travel out of town. Living in Dallas, fares are reasonable to most cities. There are several hotels that offered special CC rates in the area. I chose the Hilton Garden Inn downtown Cleveland. They had a great $89 per night CC rate, they provided complimentary shuttle/car service 24 hours a day to and from the hospital for my family. As a Hilton Honors member I got free breakfast coupons for my wife and father, so that saved $30 per day also.
The CC has several on site food choices, almost a food court atmosphere, for the family to chose from at the hospital when visiting for the family. You have to plan about 7 or 8 days in town when you have surgery there. We went in on Sunday, had tests all day Monday, pre op visits with surgeon on Tues; then surgery on Wed. Typically you would be discharged 5 days later; plan one or two nights more in the hotel then fly home.
It does cost more to travel for surgery, but I wanted to do this at CC and had planned for it for a number of years so I was prepared for it.
Thank you very much Mark for sharing your experience. It is very informational and helpful in dealing with my rather recently discovered condition.
Cleveland Clinic is #1 for Heart Surgery, so you had the best of the best! How did you select your surgeon Dr. Gillinov? Unless you live in the general area, you must have had to establish living quarters for the recuperation and follow up period. Was that difficult and costly?
I am under the care of a New York City cardiologist Dr. Theodore Tyberg of Cornell-Weill Presbyterian as I lived in NYC until recently. Dr. Tyberg recommends a bi-annual exam with him, as well as, finding a Honolulu cardiologist for emergency care which I am currently dilligencing, narrowing down cardiologists who had their training at the more renowned institutions which has not been easy. Hawaii is a wonderful but more relaxed culture where most physicians obtain their all medical, internship and residency training at Univ Hawaii which is not on the cutting edge of medicine.
There is much for me to learn and research but this site I stumbled on is fantastic. With the guidance of the HV community, I will grope my way forward.
Welcome to HVJ. Do some reserach but I believe the minimally invasive approach for each of those two valves is from a different angle, place: such that they would not both be available from the same incision angles.
I recently had surgery at the Cleveland Clinic with Dr Marc Gillinov for two repairs/replacements. I had aortic stenosis/regurgitation which required a new valve; and an aortic root repair due to an anuerysm. In addition Dr Gillinov wanted to take a look at my mitral valve as pre op tests shoed mild regurgitation.
My operation was done as a median sternotomy as a result of the multiple procesdures due to safety factors. Minimally invasive was out the window in my case once that was determined. That was not what i wanted to hear the morning before the surgery but was ready for either procedure.
My surgery was on May 5 via a median sternotomy ( 8 inches). My recovery has been outstanding. My pain at the incision was minimal and I was off of pain medications within 12 days of the surgery. I attribute much of that to having the finest surgeon in the world performing my surgery.
I think as you read through journals, you will find people who had minimally invasive surgery's who have similar stories of quick recovery as mine; and you will find stories of people with minimally invasive who dealt with a lot of pain and were on pain medications for long periods. There is nothing wrong with pain medications, as a key to recovery is being at the right levels of medication to make your day comfortable. A big key to minimally invasive in the recovery time is there is less bone to heal, your movements are less restricitve and you get to drive sooner.
All in all if I had my druthers I would rather have had minimlly invasive over median sternotomy; but the key is to listen to your surgeon and be safe in the procedure. A median sternotomy for me has not been difficult to recover from, I am excercising/walking daily. Getting out and going (in the backseat) whenever I want and expect to start driving and back to work in my office next Wed on my six week anniversery of my surgery. (Will likley cheat and start back Monday, as I have seen every episode of Bonaza on TV Land in the last month now)
Do some research once surgey is determined and chose a good surgeon, a good heart hospital and prepare yourself with the knowledge of exactly what will be done. that is the most powerful thing you can take into this, along with a positive attitude. These suregeries are done thousands of times every year. Ultimately, if you go to surgery, it is a tough first couple of days but you will be just fine. Good luck and best wishes. Keep asking questions.