Have you or a family member ever left a surgeon’s office feeling unsure about the details of an upcoming operation?
If so, you are not alone. Research shows that most people remember only a small portion of the information that is given to them by their surgeon during a preoperative visit. Regardless of how much time your surgeon spends with you, it can be difficult to digest the many details regarding why an operation is necessary, the various treatment options, the technical aspects of the proposed surgery, the possible risks and benefits, and what the recovery will be like. It’s just too much information to take in at one time when the biggest thing on your mind is, “Will I be okay?”
Ctsurgerypatients.org is a website dedicated to helping patients and their families navigate the process of undergoing surgery on one of the organs in the chest. The website was developed and is maintained by The Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS), the nation’s largest organization of both adult and pediatric heart (cardiac) and lung (thoracic) surgeons. The website offers information about cardiothoracic surgery, including pictures, videos, and text explanations that are easy to understand by people who do not have a medical or scientific background. The information is presented both in English and Spanish and is easily navigated by smartphone, tablet, or personal computer.
The content is divided into five major sections: Adult Heart Disease, Lung, Esophageal, and Other Chest Diseases, Pediatric and Congenital Heart Disease, Heart and Lung Transplantation, and Before, During, and After Surgery. Each of the major sections is organized into the most commonly encountered diseases, which are explained with information on diagnostic tests, treatment options, and expected results. In addition, each section also includes a list of suggested questions that you can download and print for your visit with your surgeon.
The website is continually being updated with new topics, graphics, and videos. I also will be writing regularly about more specific questions that are frequently asked by patients and their families.
STS surgeons understand that no one wants to have surgery, but we are firm believers that there is comfort in knowledge. We are confident that the information contained in ctsurgerypatients.org will make you and your family more knowledgeable and, hence, more comfortable as you weigh your options regarding surgery of the chest.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Society of Thoracic Surgeons.