Madjarov new invention


Invention Revolutionizes Recovery After Surgery

An FDA-approved device and technique invented and patented by Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute cardiothoracic surgeon Jeko Madjarov, MD, is helping patients heal after open chest surgery.

Editor's note: The footage in video above was taken before the COVID-19 pandemic and may not reflect current health and safety policies.

Healing from surgery can be tough even when your body is otherwise healthy and strong. Now imagine how much harder it might be if your muscles are already weak from having another serious disease.

Or if, say, you were to get into a car accident soon after your surgery.

Those are just the kinds of challenges thoracic surgeon Jeko Madjarov, MD, was up against as he looked for a better way for patients to heal after open chest surgery.

Dr. Madjarov, of Atrium Health’s Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute, knew that open chest surgery was a life-saving procedure for many patients. But he also saw just how tough it could be on the body.

“Supporting a patient’s bone structure after open chest surgery is critical,” he says. “We have changed the way the industry will care for high-risk patients by providing a better option that will improve recovery time and lead to better quality of life for our patients long-term.”

For patients who already have weak muscles from certain conditions, it can be even harder. Supporting a patient’s bone structure after open heart surgery was critical – not only to their recovery, but for lessening the damage from any future trauma or impact. 

So he came up with a solution: Instead of the traditional titanium and wire that holds the breastbone together horizontally after surgery, he developed a device that could close and hold the sternum together with additional support. The sternal closure device was developed entirely in-house at Atrium Health over the course of six years, and in February of 2016 it was approved by the FDA. The device is the only one of its kind that utilizes a high-quality polymer.

Shortly after, Dr. Madjarov performed the first-ever chest implantation of his device. His patient, Thomas, needed the enhanced support of the new device due to a condition, called myasthenia gravis, that left him with very weak skeletal muscles. After a successful procedure, Dr. Madjarov was hopeful the patient would benefit – but he couldn’t have guessed that his new device was about to be put to the ultimate test.

“Through extensive research and our commitment to high-quality care, we are on the forefront of advancements across specialties and are offering the latest treatments close to home,” says  Geoffrey Rose, MD, president of Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute.

The very day Thomas was cleared to resume normal activities – including driving – he was involved in a car accident. His air bag deployed in the crash. In normal circumstances, this kind of impact would likely damage the chest and possibly break the structure supporting the breastbone.

But while Thomas suffered rib and back injuries, his chest closure was rock solid. For Dr. Madjarov – and the patient – the closure device was validated as a true life-saver.

“I’m inspired by the way this device has helped save multiple patients’ lives to date,” says Dr. Madjarov. “This option is now available nationally, and has been used in nearly 4,000 cases.”

The innovative technique has also helped patients who have come to Atrium Health with complications after surgery at other institutions. Harty, a self-referring patient left with a hole in his chest, says Dr. Madjarov changed his life.


To learn more about Harty’s story, watch this video:



When it comes to open heart surgery, Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute is innovating in more ways than one. We’re also the only heart center in the region to offer minimally invasive bypass surgery. Learn more.