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Cardiac Surgery

Our heart surgery teams are the best in the western Massachusetts region. Whether your surgery is planned or the result of an emergency, we have the experience to care for you.

Types of Heart Surgery

You may, quite naturally, be worried or anxious before your surgery. We have found it helps you feel better if you understand why you are having your operation, and what will happen before, during, and after the surgery. We will give you written information and will also discuss your procedure with you. Please share your questions and concerns with us, and feel free to have your family with you during these discussions.

We perform a wide variety of heart operations, including:

Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting (CABG)

This surgery may help you if you have:

During this procedure, your surgeon will make a new path around your blocked coronary artery (blood vessel in your heart) using a healthy artery or vein from your chest wall, arm, or leg. These healthy blood vessels are connected or "grafted" onto your aorta and your coronary artery beyond the blockage. This new path lets oxygen-rich blood go around, or "bypass," the blockage to reach your heart. The healthy arteries and veins may come from several places in your body.

Minimally invasive coronary artery surgery may be an alternative to the standard methods for coronary artery bypass graft surgery. The method is performed through a small incision, often using specialized surgical instruments.

Robotically assisted heart surgery is a type of minimally invasive heart surgery performed by cardiac surgeons. The surgeons use a special technology to control surgical instruments on thin robotic arms.

Your surgeon will discuss what options are available for you.

Heart Valve Surgery

If you have diseased heart valves that could lead to congestive heart failure, you may benefit from surgery to repair or replace the abnormal valves. Your valve may either be replaced with a mechanic or animal (cow) tissue valve, depending on your individual case.

Proper blood flow through the chambers of the heart depends on the functioning of four specialized heart valves: the tricuspid and pulmonic valves on the right side of the heart, and the mitral and the aortic valves on the left side of the heart. If any of these valves becomes damaged or does not function properly, surgical repair or replacement of the valve may be necessary.

The mitral valve may be able to be repaired, while the aortic valve is most often replaced.

If the damaged heart valve cannot be repaired, there are currently two types of artificial heart valves that may be used to replace a damaged or defective valve: biologic (animal tissue) valves and mechanical (metal and/or plastic) valves.

You may also benefit from transcatheter aortic valve replacement (see below), a newer option for patients needing aortic valve repair who are not candidates for traditional open heart surgery.

Based on which valve is to be replaced, the type of disease affecting your valve, your past medical history, and your general condition, you and your cardiac surgeon will choose the type of valve best for you.

Thoracic Aneurysm Surgery

Damage to the aortic and thoracic vessels are usually the result of penetrating or blunt injuries to the chest, such as from a car accident. However, some patients develop an enlargement of the aorta (the largest artery of the body) as a result of abnormal tissues or high blood pressure.

This enlargement has a risk of rupture or severe bleeding if it continues to grow. This condition is often best treated by removing the diseased aorta (the aneurysm) and replacing it with an artificial synthetic artery that does not expand or enlarge. To correct these problems, a portion of the aorta is replaced or repaired.

Our cardiac surgeons repair thoracic aortic aneurysms using either endovascular (small incisions within your blood vessels) surgery or open surgery, both with excellent results.

Maze Procedure for Cardiac Arrhythmias

If you suffer from cardiac arrhythmia such as atrial fibrillation or flutter, you may benefit from the Maze procedure.

This procedure has a 70 to 80 percent success rate in converting the irregular atrial rhythm to a normal sinus rhythm. It can be performed during a valve repair or replacement operation, or as a single procedure.

The Maze procedure, also called surgical ablation, is done using small incisions, radio waves, freezing, or microwave, or ultrasound energy to create scar tissue. The procedure may eliminate your need for blood thinning medications such as Coumadin.

Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR)

TAVR, or transcatheter aortic valve replacement, is a newer option for patients needing aortic valve repair who are not a candidate for traditional open heart surgery.

During this procedure, a catheter is inserted into a blood vessel in the groin. A replacement valve is then placed on a stent, which is pushed through the blood vessel and into the heart. Once it reaches the aortic valve, a balloon is inflated, pushing the calcification and the faulty valve against the aortic wall, making room for the new valve.