If you’re experiencing chest pain and in need of surgery, our cardiothoracic surgeons in Birmingham are trained and highly experienced in heart and chest surgery. Their skill allows them to operate on the heart, lungs, esophagus, diaphragm, blood vessels and other organs in the chest.

What Is Cardiothoracic Surgery?

Cardiothoracic surgery, performed by a cardiothoracic surgeon, is a field of surgery that deals with the treatment of a wide range of cardiovascular and pulmonary disorders involving the heart, lungs, trachea, esophagus, diaphragm and major blood vessels in the thorax or chest.

The main areas of cardiothoracic surgery are:

  • Adult cardiac surgery – mostly deals with coronary heart disease of older patients.
  • General thoracic surgery – mostly deals with treatment of malignant diseases of the lungs, chest wall, esophagus and diaphragm.
  • Congenital cardiac surgery – most demanding subspecialty of cardiothoracic surgery because this deals with a heart defect of a child or infant.

Cardiovascular Surgery vs. Cardiothoracic Surgery

The cardiovascular or circulatory system consists of the heart, arteries, veins and capillaries. These same organs also form the cardiothoracic system, but include the lungs, esophagus, diaphragm and blood vessels in the chest.

Our cardiothoracic surgeons in Birmingham perform a wide range of surgery involving both cardiovascular and pulmonary disorders, including:

  • Surgery for lung cancer, tumors and cysts
  • Surgery on collapsed or infected lungs
  • Keyhole thoracic surgery
  • Chest wall deformities (pectus surgery)

At Brookwood Baptist Health, we have a team of experienced specialists to help patients recover from cardiovascular and pulmonary disorders:

  • Cardiothoracic surgeons
  • Cardiothoracic surgery physician assistant
  • Oncologists
  • Anesthesiologists
  • Perfusionists

Our staff are experienced in traditional open heart surgeries as well as minimally invasive techniques, and perform the following cardiothoracic surgery procedures:

Off-pump heart surgery

Like traditional open heart surgery, the chest wall is cut open to access the heart. The difference is that the heart is not stopped during surgery and the patient is not connected to a heart-lung bypass machine. Off-pump heart surgery is not recommended for all patients. Our experienced cardiothoracic and vascular surgeons are here to help you find the right treatment plan for your condition.

Minimally invasive surgery

This involves making small incisions on the side of the chest between the ribs without having to cut open the breastbone to reach the heart. The most common example of this surgery is robotic-assisted surgery, where a cardiothoracic surgeon uses a computer to control surgical tools on thin robotic arms to perform complex and precise surgery.

Utilizing these new techniques allows our cardiothoracic surgeons to operate on patients who have been ineligible due to age or a health condition. Minimally invasive procedures require smaller incisions and typically allow patients to recover more quickly than with traditional open-heart surgery. Some of the other benefits of minimally invasive techniques may include:

  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Less blood loss
  • Less pain after surgery
  • Less scarring
  • Faster return to normal activity
  • Fewer complications
  • Decreased risk of infection

Our cardiothoracic surgeons also perform various kinds of cardiovascular surgery, including:

Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting

Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG, pronounced “cabbage”) is the most common type of heart surgery used to treat people who have severe coronary heart disease. When plaque builds up inside the coronary arteries that supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart, the surgeon must reroute blood flow.

During bypass surgery, our cardiothoracic and vascular surgeons take a healthy artery or vein from other parts of the body and graft it to the blocked coronary artery. The grafted arteries reroute the blood around the blocked portion of the artery to supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle. A patient may undergo multiple bypass grafts depending on the number of clogged arteries.

This procedure improves the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart, relieves chest pain, reduces the risk of heart attack and improves the patient’s ability to engage in physical activity.

Heart valve repair or replacement

Healthy heart valves allow blood to precisely flow between different chambers and out of the heart into large arteries. Each valve has a set of flaps called leaflets. Surgery is performed when these leaflets do not open as wide as they should or if they do not close tightly. To fix these problems, our cardiothoracic surgeons in Birmingham either perform valve repair or replacement using a man-made or biological valve. These biological valves are made from pig, cow or human heart tissues.

Corrective surgery for heart defect present at birth

Congenital heart defects (CHD) are the most common types of birth defect. Babies born with one or more heart defects have CHD. CHDs can affect the structure of a baby’s heart, the way it works and how blood flows through the heart and out to the rest of the body. Corrective surgery may fix or treat CHD. The number of surgeries to repair the heart or blood vessels depend on the type and severity of the defect.

Cardio Services at Brookwood Baptist Health

When it comes to caring for your heart, Brookwood Baptist Health offers cardiac care with both advanced technology and old-fashioned tender love and care. If you are at risk of developing cardiovascular and pulmonary disease, seek medical attention immediately or schedule a screening to confirm diagnosis. Please do not delay care. Click here for a list of our cardiovascular physicians.

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