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Cardiothoracic surgery, also called cardiac surgery or heart surgery, is typically recommended by a cardiologist to correct a heart condition when medications, lifestyle changes and other nonsurgical treatments are not effective. Heart surgery may also be needed for patients who present with a medical emergency such as a heart attack.

At Catholic Health’s St. Francis Heart Center, our dedicated cardiologists are recognized leaders in all types of heart surgery—from minimally invasive procedures to conventional open-heart surgeries—that improve a patient’s quality of life.


What conditions does heart surgery treat?

Numerous types of heart conditions are treated with cardiac surgery but the most common include:

  • Aortic aneurysms
  • Atrial fibrillation (AFib)
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Coronary artery disease (CAD)
  • Heart valve disease
  • Mitral valve disease



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What are the types of heart surgery?

Surgical heart procedures can range from minimally invasive to more complex like open-heart surgery. Your cardiac surgeon will work closely with you to decide on the best approach based on your condition, age, current health status, long-term health goals and other factors.

Common cardiac surgical procedures include:
Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery (CABG). In this surgery for patients with blocked coronary arteries, a cardiac surgeon will use a section (or graft) of a patient's vein or artery to create a new source of blood flow around the blocked coronary arteries. There are two types of CABG surgery.

  • On-Pump Bypass Surgery. A cardiac surgeon opens a patient’s chest and stops the heart. The patient is placed on a heart-lung machine during the operation.
  • Off-Pump Surgery. A cardiac surgeon operates directly on a patient’s beating heart with minimal access required.

Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) surgery. In this surgery, a cardiac surgeon restores normal heart rhythm for patients who are experiencing arrhythmia. Surgical options include:


Pacemaker and implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD). These devices, placed under a patient’s skin, use electrical pulses to manage cardiac rhythm when a sensor detects an abnormality.


Surgical ablation (Mini-Maze). This minimally invasive procedure uses radiofrequency energy to create lines of ablation along the exterior of the heart. The resulting scar tissue interrupts the faulty electrical pathway that causes an irregular heart rhythm. 


Heart valve repair or replacement. In this procedure to treat heart valve disease, a cardiac surgeon will either repair the patient's valve or replace it with a biological tissue valve (e.g., pig or cow) or mechanical valve.


Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR). A cardiac surgeon will use this minimally invasive, catheter-based procedure to replace a patient’s damaged aortic valve. TAVR allows patients who are too old or sick to avoid open-heart surgery.


Transcatheter Mitral Valve Repair (TMVR). A cardiac surgeon will use this minimally invasive, catheter-based procedure to treat mitral regurgitation. A small device called a MitraClip is implanted in a patient’s heart valve to restore normal blood flow and allow the valve to close more fully. A TMVR is recommended for patients who are considered too high risk for surgery.

Is heart surgery risky?

Any surgery can pose potential risks. Your cardiac surgeon will talk to you about any associated risks with your procedure and review commonly asked questions including:

  • How do I prepare for surgery?
  • What happens during my surgical procedure?
  • How do I prepare for post-surgical care?

Find Care at St. Francis Heart Center

Cardiac surgeons at Catholic Health's St. Francis Heart Center®—Long Island’s most awarded heart program—are nationally recognized experts who offer patients the latest, most advanced heart surgery options. 

Learn more about our heart surgery services. Call 866-MY-LI-DOC (866-695-4362) to find a Catholic Health physician near you.

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