Cardiothoracic Surgery

Cardiothoracic surgery is not surgery of just one organ; it is more like surgery that is performed in the chest cavity. Cardio does mean heart, but it is not limited to only heart surgery. The thorax is the chest area. There are multiple structures in the chest area including the esophagus and lungs. The thought of having surgery in your chest can be scary but having the right cardiothoracic surgeon can make all the difference.


The chest cavity houses two important organs: the heart and the lungs.  The heart has many different parts to it. Heart problems may be a result of valve issues, or it could be problems in the artery. Heart problems also include blocked valves, which may result in heart attacks. The lungs have problems of its own. Lungs are extremely important not only for breathing but it affects every other part of the body. If the body is unable to get oxygen, it will begin to shut down. The lungs have a direct connection to the heart in that the lungs are required to get oxygen to the blood. The pulmonary arteries function to transport deoxygenated blood to the lungs. The esophagus is necessary for digestion. Without the esophagus, eating and swallowing are very difficult. The esophagus is connected to the stomach on one end and the mouth on the other end. The esophagus is susceptible to cancer as well as damage from acid reflux. Constant exposure to stomach acid through vomiting or acid reflux disease will destroy the cells in the esophagus.

Cardiovascular Surgeons

You may be wondering what type of doctor does cardiovascular surgery. Is it just one doctor or multiple? A cardiothoracic surgeon performs cardiothoracic surgery. It may not make sense since cardiologist are considered heart doctors and pulmonologist are considered lung doctors.  The difference between a cardiothoracic surgeon is that they have extra training not only in surgery but the cardiothoraci
c region of the body. Their training is specifically in the whole chest cavity. A cardiovascular surgeon is responsible for replacing or repairing areas in the chest cavity. Cardiovascular surgery can treat many different types of diseases. Some common problems treated include:

Cardiothoracic surgeons are different from general thoracic surgeons in that general thoracic surgeons do not operate on the heart. They stick to the lungs and esophagus.

Cardiothoracic Surgery Methods

Cardiovascular surgery is not necessarily done one way. The procedure used is dependent upon the structure being fixed. In open heart surgery, the chest cavity is open, and the heart is exposed. This method is necessary when performing surgery on the inner structures of the heart. In the cases of cancer, removing the tumors may also require the opening of the chest cavity. Some surgeries are minimally invasive. Most minimally invasive surgeries have smaller incisions and quicker recovery times. For most minimally invasive surgeries, robots are used. The surgeon controls these robots but since a robotic arm is being used instead of the hand of a human, the incision is smaller.

Cardiothoracic Surgery Risks

Cardiothoracic surgery has its share of risk like any other surgery. Cardiac bypass surgeries bring the highest risk. Heart surgery, in general, is risky but as time has progressed, surgery techniques are getting better, and mortality rates are decreasing. Cardiothoracic surgery in children is usually done to fix congenital heart issues. With the use of robots, surgery in children is now easier. Stroke may also be a risk of cardiothoracic surgery. A stroke is a lack of blood to the brain. It is important during cardiothoracic surgery, especially surgery on the heart, not to restrict blood flow. Sometimes bypasses must be made during surgery to allow blood flow to continue. Infection is always a risk with surgery. With the sterilization process, infection is at a low risk. It is important though to stay up on your hygiene after surgery so that you do not get an infection. It is also important to avoid other diseases like pneumonia which is treatable, but very hard to get over when you are recovering from surgery.

Recovery time for cardiothoracic surgery is lengthy. Recovery is shorter when surgery is minimally invasive. It takes some time to gain your strength back after cardiothoracic surgery. Doctors like to monitor you closely. They do not want you over-exerting yourself. The heart especially needs time to gain strength and adjust. Surgery of the lungs may totally affect your breathing and require you to adjust. Surgery in the esophagus may require you to adjust the way you eat. In cardiothoracic surgery, the whole esophagus may be removed altogether. Not having an esophagus will adjust how you sleep and the times you eat during the day. Some foods you may have to stay away from especially if they cause acid reflux.

Cardiothoracic Surgery does not focus on one area of the body but multiple. A cardiothoracic surgeon can fix many different issues. The heart, lungs, and esophagus are the three main structures a cardiothoracic surgeon operates on; this means cardiothoracic surgeons are also able to treat many different diseases. Recovery for cardiothoracic surgery is extensive. It is not something that you undergo and go home the same day or next day. As the body gets stronger, it also adjusts to the replacement or repair of the structure surgery was performed on. If you are suffering from any cardiothoracic issue, make an appointment with a cardiothoracic surgeon. Cardiothoracic surgery has come a long way over the years and through scientific advances, surgery time as well as recovery periods are becoming shorter.


There are hundreds of Cardiothoracic Surgeons to choose from; however, not all surgeons are created equal. Cardiothoracic Surgery takes the skill of an experienced surgeon. That’s why we’ve selected your city’s best Cardiothoracic Surgeons – to make the decision process easier for you and your family.

For your peace of mind, Top10MD Cardiothoracic Surgeons’ credentials are validated yearly to verify medical licenses have no serious patient care sanctions, current Board Certifications in their given medical specialty, current DEA & DPS licenses, and malpractice insurance. A Top10MD has at least 5+ years experience or has performed 300+ procedures in their given specialty and a current Patient Satisfaction Score of 8.5 or higher.

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