Open-heart surgery is a general term for a surgical procedure that involves making a midline incision in the sternum (breast bone) to access the heart. The sternum is split in half and pulled back with retractors to expose the heart. The heart can then be placed on a bypass machine if necessary to keep oxygenated blood moving through the body. Further surgery on the heart can then be performed.
Figure 1: Incision made midline in the chest. Sternum is split in half.
Figure 2: Sternum is retracted to expose the heart for further surgery. A heart lung bypass is shown in place with tubing that keeps the blood moving through the body.
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