Surgical Services and Procedures

The Heart & Vascular Center's Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery Program combines the expertise of skilled surgeons, physicians and nurses with the latest advancements in medical technology.

Cardiothoracic surgery using da Vinci Robotic Surgical System
Robotic-assisted minimally invasive cardiac procedures avoid the drawbacks of traditional heart surgery, including blood loss, pain and scarring that typically result from cutting through the breastbone and opening the ribs.

da Vinci offers breakthrough capabilities that enable surgeons to operate through smaller incisions made between the ribs. As a result, the da Vinci system is changing the practice of cardiac surgery as it's known today. Data suggests that recovery time, pain and trauma are reduced significantly through this less invasive approach.

Off-pump Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery (OP-CAB)  
OP-CAB is a progressive, open heart surgical procedure. The surgeon bypasses diseased (narrowed) coronary arteries using veins obtained from the patient’s lower extremities or arteries from other sites on the body. During OP-CAB, the heart remains beating while artery bypass surgery is performed.

OP-CAB has several benefits over traditional open heart surgery including:

  • Decreased risk of damage to the heart, brain, kidneys and other organs
  • Fewer cognitive and neurological side effects
  • Less blood loss
  • Quicker recovery time due to a less-invasive process

Minimally Invasive Cardiac Surgery
Traditional heart surgery typically requires exposure of the heart and its vessels by dividing the sternum, which is considered one of the most invasive and traumatic aspects of open-chest surgery.

Traditional cardiac surgery requires a 10- to 12-inch incision to separate the sternum and often requires the patient to be placed on a heart-lung machine. Minimally invasive cardiac surgery is performed through several small 3- to 5-inch incisions placed between the ribs.

Minimally invasive cardiac surgery results in a faster recovery, fewer complications and less pain after surgery.

Traditional Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery
During this procedure the patient is placed on a heart bypass machine (heart-lung machine) during the surgery.

Valve Repair and Replacement
The valves of the heart are located within the chambers of the heart and are critical to the proper flow of blood through the heart. All of the valves, when functioning normally, act as one-way valves, allowing blood to flow either from one chamber to another, or allowing blood to flow out of the heart, in only one direction. The valves control the flow of blood through the heart by opening and closing during the contractions of the heart. The opening and closing functions of the valves are controlled by pressure differences generated within the heart, as well as some muscles located within the heart. 

  • Valve Repair - During valve repair, a ring may be sewn around the opening of the valve to tighten it. Other parts of the valve may be cut, shortened, separated or made stronger to help the valve open and close right.
  • Mitral valve repair is heart surgery performed to repair a malfunctioning mitral valve, due to narrowing or leakage. The mitral valve can malfunction because of a congenital abnormality (abnormal from birth) or an acquired disease (diseased with age) or as a result of rheumatic fever. In rare instances the mitral valve can be destroyed by infection or a bacterial endocarditis. Mitral regurgitation may also occur as a result of coronary artery disease.
  • Valve Replacement - If a valve can't be repaired, part or all of the damaged valve and its supportive structures may be removed and may be replaced with a mechanical or biological prosthetic valve. Mechanical valves are created from man-made materials. Biological (tissue) valves are taken from pig, cow or human donors.
  • Aortic valve replacement is heart surgery performed to replace a malfunctioning aortic valve, due to narrowing or leakage. The aortic valve can malfunction because of a congenital abnormality (abnormal from birth) or an acquired disease (disease with age).

MAZE Procedure for Treatment of Atrial Fibrillation
The Maze Procedure is surgery performed to treat atrial fibrillation. During the procedure, a number of incisions are made on the left and right atrium to form scar tissue, which does not conduct electricity and disrupts the path of abnormal electrical impulses. The scar tissue also prevents erratic electrical signals from recurring. After the incisions are made, the atrium is sewn together to allow it to hold blood and contract to push blood into the ventricle.

Major Thoracic and Trauma Procedures
These procedures include complex lung resections, removal of intravascular tumors, repair of penetrating chest trauma or the treatment of tracheobronchial illnesses.