Heart Disease Home > Open Heart Surgery Complications

Some of the minor complications that can occur as a result of open heart surgery include nausea and vomiting, minor infections, and skin numbness. The most serious open heart surgery complications can include stroke, heart attack, graft failure, and serious bleeding. Depending on the patient's individual situation and overall health, a major complication may lead to a longer hospital stay, a blood transfusion, a repeat surgery, dialysis, or even loss of life.

(Technically speaking, an open heart surgery is any procedure where the chest is opened, which certainly includes procedures beyond a heart bypass (a valve replacement, for example). However, because a heart bypass is the most common type of open heart surgery, for the purposes of this article, we will be using the terms "bypass" and "open heart surgery" interchangeably.)
 

An Introduction to Open Heart Surgery Complications

No procedure is ever completely free of risks. However, open heart surgery has been performed for many years with successful results and limited complications.
 
This article will discuss possible minor and major complications of open heart surgery. In most cases, minor open heart surgery complications are temporary and often easily treated by your healthcare providers.
 

Minor Open Heart Surgery Complications

Minor open heart surgery complications include:
 
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Minor infections
  • Minor bleeding or bruising
  • Abnormal or painful scar formation
  • Allergic skin reaction to tape, dressings, or latex
  • Skin numbness.
     
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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