Reshaping a Damaged Heart After Heart Attack

If a heart attack occurs in the left lower chamber of the heart (left ventricle), scar tissue will form. Over time, this scar tissue can weaken and thin out to become an aneurysm — an abnormal bulge of tissue. This aneurysm — in conjunction with other heart problems — can cause the heart to enlarge, reducing its ability to pump blood effectively, resulting in heart failure. 

In a ventricular reconstruction surgery, surgeons remove part of the aneurysm scar tissue to reshape the heart and restore it to its normal, conical shape. Typically, a small patch is sewn into place where the aneurysm once was. With the patch in place, surgeons sew tissue over the patch. Other procedures, such as valve repair or coronary artery bypass, may be performed during the ventricular reconstruction operation.

Ventricular reconstruction does not cure heart failure. The goal of the surgery is to help the heart improve its ability to pump blood effectively, which helps to reduce chest pain, shortness of breath and other symptoms associated with heart failure. Before ventricular reconstruction surgery, the only option to help patients with large left ventricular aneurysms was heart transplantation. 

Ventricular reconstruction surgery is a complex procedure that is best performed by experts with special training. UChicago Medicine cardiac surgeons are highly experienced at performing ventricular reconstruction, and have been doing the procedure for years. In addition, our surgeons have developed improvements to the procedure, and have lectured around the world to share these advances in surgical technique.

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