Cardiothoracic Surgery

The Cardiothoracic Surgery division of the UK Gill Heart & Vascular Institute provides expert multidisciplinary care for cardiac, vascular and thoracic conditions that require surgery. Whether you need a stent or a heart transplant, our patient-centered approach and experienced surgeons ensure that every procedure, from the minor to the highly complex, will have the best outcome possible.

Many of our board-certified surgeons specialize in minimally invasive techniques, including robotic surgery, which can speed up recovery times. UK HealthCare is also the only hospital in the region that performs artificial heart and multiple-organ transplants.

Our cardiothoracic surgery team provides comprehensive surgical treatments for:

  • Congenital heart disease
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Diseases of the mediastinum pleura, chest wall and diaphragm
  • Esophageal disease
  • Thoracic and pulmonary diseases
  • Valvular heart disease

We also provide trauma care and management of end-stage heart and lung disease.

Types of Cardiothoracic Surgery

Our specialties include:

  • Arrhythmia surgery (MAZE)
  • Bi-caval dual lumen catheter
  • Cardiac and ventricular assist device placement
  • Cardiomyopathy surgery
  • Coronary bypass surgery
  • Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)
  • Heart transplantation
  • Heart-valve repair and replacement
  • Lung transplantation
  • Major aortic surgery
  • Peripheral vascular surgery
  • Vascular surgery
  • Ventricular restorative procedures

Before Cardiothoracic Surgery

When you and your physician decide surgery is an appropriate option, you will likely have medical procedures beforehand, which may include an ultrasound, a chest X-ray, blood work, an electrocardiogram (EKG), a CT scan, an MRI or a dental cleaning. You will need to suspend taking certain medications like blood thinners at least a week in advance, and if you have not already quit smoking, now is the time.

You should also plan ahead as to how you will recover when you are back home. Will you need to board your pets? Can neighbors bring you meals, or can you stock your freezer ahead of time? Can someone stay with you as you recover? Will you be able to access your bedroom?

Many cardiothoracic procedures require sleeping in an elevated position for a certain period of time, so you may also need to rent or purchase a recliner or hospital bed for your home.

During Cardiothoracic Surgery

The length of your surgery and hospital stay greatly depends on the specific procedure that you are having, as well as your overall health. Your surgery will take place in the hospital’s expanded surgical suites, which features one of the country’s largest hybrid operating rooms for complex procedures requiring multiple surgeons.

You will receive anesthesia before surgery, and you may be placed on a heart-lung machine during the surgery. If you have lung surgery, a chest tube will likely remain in place for a few days after surgery.

After Cardiothoracic Surgery

We make your overall care, comfort and well-being our top priority. Our cardiothoracic team will see that you and your family receive exceptional treatment during your stay.

After your surgery, you may wake up in a recovery room or you may be in the ICU, depending on the type of surgery. You may still be on a breathing tube for a day or two, and you will have a catheter. You will need to practice breathing deeply with an incentive spirometer, and you will slowly be encouraged to start walking as you are able to, which is important for preventing blood clots. You also will be given pain medication as needed.

Once you are breathing well, show stable lab results and are able to walk on your own, you will be sent home to begin what can be a long recovery process. You may not be able to drive for a month or lift anything over 10 pounds for six weeks, and you should monitor your incisions for signs of infection.

It is important to return to your daily routine when you can, but we know making major lifestyle changes after surgery can be hard. We will follow up on your care in our clinic and with additional services, such as our Cardiac Rehabilitation and Wellness Program and our Heart to Heart support group for transplant and mechanical heart device patients.

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