Episode 21: What You Need to Know About the Sternotomy with Thoracic Surgeon Dr. Mark Francis Berry

You’re standing at the crossroads of cardiac care and ready to make the decision for your “unroofing” procedure. From the conversations I’ve had with many of our listeners, it’s clear the sternotomy itself creates more fear than the actual heart surgery it allows. You may have options for a minimally invasive procedure or even robotic procedure but the most common of all open heart surgeries is the sternotomy. There are over 750,000 performed each year! Whether a choice or a necessity, this episode will help you along the way in better understanding every detail of this procedure that provides the surgeon access to the heart for the corrective process. It will also help you evaluate the options with more clarity of the sternotomy by comparison to minimally invasive and robotic procedures.

Stanford’s Dr. Mark Francis Berry will take us on a virtual step-by-step journey from the very beginning of prep for the sternotomy, to the sawing open of the chest and the procedure’s delicate, choreographed movements.  With the precision of a maestro, he conducts us through the procedure’s every step, easing the trepidation that often accompanies the thought of heart surgery and providing solace with his clear, calming insights. By educating us in the process, fear of the unknown dissipates and we learn the sternotomy may not be as frightening or painful as originally thought. Discover why the sternum’s steadfast wiring might just be the unsung hero of your recovery, and how advancements in pain relief are changing the postoperative landscape.
Finally, the conversation moves to the oft-ignored psychological battles patients face, underscoring the imperative of managing not just physical pain but emotional turbulence to truly address the impacts of the procedure. The episode provides the knowledge necessary for the power of patient advocacy and informed decision-making. Whether you’re a patient or supporting someone who is, the episode highlights the importance of posing questions and the strength found in understanding one’s choices. Dr. Barry’s experiences illuminate the various surgical paths available and inspire confidence on the road to wellness.
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