Cardiac surgery is a medical specialty that provides surgical treatments for the heart. Also known as cardiovascular surgery, this specialty involves the cardiac (heart) and vascular system (blood vessels) which bring blood to and from the heart. Cardiac surgeons treat patients with or at risk for cardiovascular disorders using a variety of advanced surgical techniques. They are physicians with advanced training in surgery and cardiac surgery. Cardiac surgery procedures may include the repair of a damaged heart valve or the opening of a blocked blood vessel. Conditions which may benefit from cardiac surgery include:
Cardiac surgeons perform a broad range of cardiac surgical procedures. Less invasive cardiac surgeries might use robotic operative arms and catheters (small tubes, sometimes with a camera attached) inserted into the heart. These methods increase surgical accuracy while also reducing the size of required incisions. More invasive cardiac surgeries may be referred to as traditional cardiac surgery, or open heart surgery. In traditional cardiac surgery, a significant incision, about 6 inches in length, is made in the chest to access the heart. Operations such as heart transplants, valve surgery, and coronary artery grafts all require open heart surgery. In cases where the patient's heart is stopped, cardiac surgeons may use a heart-lung bypass machine to artificially perform cardiac functions while the operation is underway. Cardiac surgeons may perform the following minimally invasive and open heart procedures:
Cardiac surgeons may collaborate with cardiologists, primary physicians, anesthesiologists, and diagnostic radiologists.