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Lung Problems After Bypass Surgery

After a heart bypass surgery, lung problems are certainly a risk and may include pneumonia, fluid build-up, and lung failure, among other things. In most cases, the problem is temporary; however, more serious lung complications could require a breathing tube.

(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 Overview of Lung Problems After Bypass Surgery

Lung problems after bypass surgery are a possible complication of this procedure. Some of the lung-related complications following open heart surgery can include:
  • Pneumonia
  • Fluid build-up
  • Air outside the lung
  • Bleeding
  • Lung failure.
People with existing lung disease are at increased risk of developing lung problems (including lung failure) following this procedure.

Treatment for Lung Problems After Bypass Surgery

In most cases of lung failure, it is a temporary condition that responds well to changes on the breathing machine. However, lung failure may require extended use of the breathing tube and machine. In some cases, a tracheotomy, which is a tube placed into your windpipe through your neck, may need to be placed for prolonged breathing assistance. Usually, the tube will not be placed unless a person has been on the breathing machine for several weeks.
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