Prof. Dr.-Ing. Bert Arnrich

Two Hearts, One Rhythm?

Stress-Level Interplay Between Patient and Surgeon in Open Heart Surgery

Master Project (Winter Term 2023/24)

Supervisor: Jonas Chromik

In cooperation with the Klinikum Dortmund gGmbH – Klinikum der Universität Witten/Herdecke.

In open heart surgery, there are minimally invasive procedures where the patient’s heart remains beating throughout the intervention. This provides benefits to the patient but makes the surgery more challenging for the surgeon – as s/he must anticipate the heart’s movements when grafting a bypass. In this setting, stress on the patient’s heart might transfer to the surgeon who might get stressed or even hectic in return. This creates a complex interplay of stress levels between patient and surgeon which may reciprocally intensify through positive feedback and could negatively influence the surgery outcome.

Worldwide, nobody has ever observed a mutual influence of heart rhythms of human beings in such close associations. But now we have the chance to do just that! The cardiac surgery team at Klinikum Dortmund headed by Prof. Dr. med. Alexander Albert is a world leader in beating heart and minimally invasive bypass surgery. They provided us with hundreds of hours of recordings from within the operating theatre. These are many gigabytes of signal data that show the electrocardiogram of patient, surgeon, and anaesthesiologist during open heart surgeries.

With these data, we want to investigate the stress-level interplay between patient, surgeon, and anaesthesiologist. In close cooperation with the cardiac surgery team at Klinikum Dortmund, our practical objective is to build a surgery assistance system that helps the surgeon to maintain low stress levels throughout the procedure. This can help to improve surgery outcomes for the patient.