Heart Surgery

If you need heart surgery or thoracic surgery, you want the best possible care from experienced cardiothoracic surgeons.

Our team offers the full range of surgery options to treat problems inside the chest cavity, including heart, lung and esophagus conditions. We perform traditional, open heart surgery and newer, less invasive approaches that may help you recover more quickly and with less pain.

Cardiac nurses preparing for surgery

Who Should See a Cardiothoracic Surgeon?

Your doctor may recommend cardiothoracic surgery if you’ve tried other treatments that have failed, or you’re not a candidate for less invasive treatment. You may also need surgery if you have a medical emergency or a life-threatening condition like lung cancer.

Our cardiothoracic surgeons frequently help Virginians overcome:

  • Arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats)
  • Congenital heart disease, such as atrial septal defect
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Esophagus cancer
  • Heart failure
  • Heart valve problems
  • Lung disorders including cancer and emphysema
  • Pleural effusion
  • Thymus gland disorders
  • Traumatic injuries such as a fractured breastbone (sternum)

It’s natural to feel nervous about having an operation. But surgery can dramatically improve your quality of life — or save your life.

Comprehensive Cardiothoracic Surgery Options

Today, many cardiothoracic surgery procedures can be performed using open techniques or minimally invasive techniques. You and your surgeon will decide which approach is best for you based on several factors. These include your age, the severity of your condition and where inside your chest your surgeon needs to operate.

Heart Surgery Procedures

Some of our cardiothoracic surgeons specialize in heart and blood vessel disorders. They offer many complex procedures, including:

  • Aortic valve replacement or repair. Surgery to fix a damaged aortic valve or replace it with a new one.
  • Atrial septal defect repair. Closes a hole between the top two chambers of your heart.
  • Ascending aorta repair. Fixes a thoracic aortic aneurysm (a weak, bulging section of the aorta) before it bursts.
  • Cardiac tumor resection. Removes cancerous or noncancerous tumors in the heart.
  • Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG). Creates a “bypass” (detour) that allows blood to flow around the blocked part of your coronary artery.
  • Maze surgery. Blocks abnormal electrical signals that cause arrhythmias.
  • Mitral valve replacement or repair. Fixes a damaged mitral valve or replaces it with a new one.
  • Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR). We reach your heart — and insert a new aortic valve — by guiding a thin, hollow tube (catheter) through your blood vessels.
  • Tricuspid valve replacement or repair. Repairs a faulty tricuspid valve or replaces it with a new one.
  • Ventricular septal defect repair. Closes a hole between the bottom two chambers of your heart.

Thoracic Surgery Procedures

Other members of our cardiothoracic surgery team specialize in problems that fall outside of the heart. Their areas of expertise include:

  • Bronchoscopy. Your surgeon passes a thin, hollow tube (bronchoscope) through your throat and down into the lungs. They can then take tissue samples, remove blockages or fix a collapsed lung.
  • Decortication. Surgery to remove thick, inelastic tissue (called a pleural peel) that covers the lung and restricts lung expansion.
  • Esophagectomy. Surgery to remove part or all of your esophagus.
  • Lobectomy. Removes a lobe from one of your lungs.
  • Mediastinal tumor resection. Removes tumors from the part of your chest between the breastbone and spine (mediastinum).
  • Mediastinoscopy. Examines the area between the lungs and nearby lymph nodes, usually for the purpose of obtaining a biopsy.
  • Pleurodesis. A procedure to drain fluid that’s building up around the lungs and prevent it from happening again.
  • Pneumonectomy. Surgery to remove an entire lung.
  • Surgery to repair traumatic injuries to the heart, lungs, breastbone or rib cage.
  • Thrombectomy. Removes a blood clot that is blocking a blood vessel near the lungs.
  • Video assisted thoracoscopy (VATS). Minimally invasive chest surgeries performed using a special camera called a thoracoscope.

Recovering from Surgery

The number of days you’ll need to stay in the hospital after surgery varies. So does the length of time it will take you to fully recover and take part in normal activities. Generally speaking, patients who have minimally invasive surgery instead of open surgery are back on their feet more quickly.

A Team Approach to Treatment

Many people who need cardiothoracic surgery also work with other doctors. You may see other cardiovascular specialists for medical care prior to (or after) having surgery. Or your surgeon may need to team up with doctors who specialize in digestive or airway disorders.

No matter how complex your condition, you’ll find the care you need at Centra. Our integrated team includes:

Why Choose Centra for Cardiothoracic Surgery?

If you’re looking for an experienced cardiothoracic surgeon in central Virginia, turn to Centra. You can have confidence in our surgical care because:

  • We’re leaders in the field. Our adult cardiac surgery program has a three-star rating — the highest available — from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons. This means patients who undergo CABG and other types of heart surgery have survival rates that are higher than average. In fact, Centra is the only healthcare system in Virginia that’s received a star rating every year since STS launched its public reporting program.
  • We provide surgery that’s as safe as it is effective. Less than 1% of our patients who undergo CABG experience a serious complication. The national average is roughly five times higher than this.
  • We help catch lung cancer early. Our team offers low-dose CT scans to screen eligible patients for lung cancer. This technology helps catch lung tumors when they’re tiny and typically still treatable. We also offer a multispecialty clinic that evaluates and monitors lung nodules to make sure they don’t grow too large or become cancerous.
Photo of Ed, a patient, holding skis

I had a significant heart condition and needed triple bypass surgery. That was quite a life-changing experience for me. Later, I also had aortic heart valve replacement surgery at Centra. I’ve had the good fortune of having spectacular doctors; they do a beautiful job there.

Ed , Heart Surgery Patient

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