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Cardiovascular surgery, also called cardiac surgery or heart surgery, treats a wide range of diseases and conditions of the heart and large blood vessels, from coronary artery disease to advanced heart failure. You may need cardiovascular surgery when nonsurgical options are not an option or are no longer working.

At Atrium Health Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute, we’re renowned experts who provide the highest caliber of cardiovascular surgical care – from leading-edge treatments and clinical trials that aren’t offered elsewhere to outstanding outcomes that place us among the nation’s best.

We’re also the region’s top-ranked heart program according to U.S. News & World Report, including earning high-performing recognition in transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), aortic valve surgery, heart bypass surgery and heart failure transplant surgery.

To schedule an appointment with our expert team, call 704-373-0212.

Learn more about cardiovascular surgery from Dr. Frederick

“Patients who need cardiac surgery have a structural problem that requires a mechanical fix,” says John Frederick, MD, a cardiovascular surgeon at Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute.

Why choose Sanger for cardiovascular surgery?

  • Nationally recognized: We are the only program in the region to receive high-performing distinction from U.S. News & World Report across all 6 categories related to cardiology and heart surgery, including aortic valve surgery, transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), heart bypass surgery and heart failure transplant surgery. We also have a 3-star rating from The Society of Thoracic Surgeons in mitral valve surgery and coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG), placing us among the elite cardiovascular surgery programs in the country.
  • Superspecialized expertise: Most cardiovascular programs have a handful of surgeons who perform all types of heart surgery. We have dedicated teams for specialized areas within cardiovascular surgery, such as mitral valve disease, aortic valve disease and heart failure. This allows us to hone our skills on newer, advanced techniques and provide high-end therapies that aren’t offered elsewhere, resulting in superior outcomes.
  • Outstanding outcomes: We consistently demonstrate surgical outcomes that exceed the national average and place us among the nation’s best cardiovascular programs.
  • Treatments only offered here: We’re leaders in minimally invasive surgery and noninvasive (catheter-based) procedures, offering a large number of treatments that are not available elsewhere. We also have numerous investigational treatment options that are only available through our research and clinical trial work.
  • Nationally leading remote patient monitoring program: Through education and technology, The Perfect Care Quality Improvement initiative helps improve patient outcomes, including reduced lengths of stay, readmission rates and mortality rates. A main component is monitoring your heart rate, blood pressure, sleep, activity and weight with Bluetooth-enabled technology from home following surgery, combined with weekly video visits. If we identify a problem that can’t be solved remotely, we’ll ask you to come in right away so you can receive immediate care from our team.

Team approach

We work closely together to deliver complete and advanced cardiovascular surgical care. For instance, when we have a complex case, our multidisciplinary team meets to decide on the best form of treatment.

Our cardiovascular surgery team includes:

  • Advanced cardiac imaging physicians
  • Advanced practice providers
  • Cardiovascular (cardiac) surgeons
  • Congenital heart surgeons
  • Critical care providers
  • Electrophysiologists
  • Heart failure physicians
  • Interventional cardiologists
  • Nurse navigators
  • Perfusionists

Your first appointment

Before your first appointment

Once we receive your referral information, a member of our team will reach out to gather your medical history, previous lab results and images (like an echocardiogram, MRI or heart catheterization). And to ensure we have the most precise images and up-to-date information, we may ask you to get additional diagnostic or lab tests before your first appointment.

At your first appointment

You’ll meet with one of our surgeons who will go over your medical records and diagnostic results, do a physical exam, and provide a comprehensive treatment plan, which may include surgery. If you are scheduled for surgery, you will attend an educational session, receive detailed educational materials about your surgery, including pre- and post-surgery information, and be enrolled in our remote patient monitoring program.

If additional testing or a referral is needed, we’ll schedule a follow-up appointment, such as a pulmonology or endocrinology appointment. 

 

Make an appointment

Get cardiovascular surgery from the region’s top-rated program at 3 locations in the greater Charlotte region.

What we treat

We offer cardiovascular surgery for a wide range of diseases and conditions, including:  

  • Coronary artery disease (artery blockage)
  • Congenital heart disease (heart defects present at birth)
  • Endocarditis (heart valve infections)
  • Heart arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)
  • Heart valve disease
    • Aortic valve stenosis (narrowed valve)
    • Aortic valve regurgitation (leaky valve)
    • Mitral valve stenosis (narrowed valve)
    • Mitral valve regurgitation (leaky valve)
    • Pulmonary valve disease (leaky or narrowed valve)
    • Tricuspid valve disease (leaky or narrowed valve, congenital defect)
  • Heart failure
  • Hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy (thickening of heart muscle)
  • Thoracic (chest) aortic disease:
    • Aortic aneurysm (bulging of aortic wall)
    • Coarctation of the aorta (narrowed section of aorta)

Cardiovascular surgical treatments

We’re renowned experts in our field, providing the latest treatments in the least invasive way possible to give you a quicker recovery and achieve the best long-term outcomes. Here are some of the most common cardiovascular surgical treatments and noninvasive, catheter-based therapies we offer:

  • Aortic valve repair and aortic valve replacement help restore blood flow and can be done through traditional open heart surgery, minimally invasive surgery or noninvasive methods, like transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR).
    • TAVR is designed to treat aortic valve stenosis. We replace the thickened valve with an artificial valve to restore blood flow. According to U.S. News & World Report, we’re one of the best TAVR programs in the country, ranking in the top 10%.
  • Aortic aneurysm repair is done to fix a widened section of the artery wall that could burst or tear if left untreated. The repair can be done through traditional open heart surgery or noninvasive methods, like thoracic endovascular aortic repair (TEVAR).
    • TEVAR uses a catheter to place a stent (tube) within the chest section of the aorta and seal the aneurysm off from the inside. As a top-5 center for national TEVAR volumes, we offer unmatched expertise.
  • Aortic coarctation repair opens the narrowed portion of the aorta to restore blood flow. We do this through open heart surgery or a catheter-based approach, like thoracic endovascular aortic repair (TEVAR).
    • TEVAR involves using a catheter to place a stent (tube) within the chest section of the aorta to dilate (blow up) a balloon to open the narrowed area.
  • Cardiac ablation for heart arrhythmias is used to correct heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias). We use heating or cooling energy to create scar lines (or a maze) on the surface of the heart to block abnormal electrical signals while allowing normal heartbeat signals to come through. We do this through open heart maze surgery, minimally invasive maze surgery, hybrid maze surgery, and noninvasive/minimally invasive left atrial appendage closure.
    • Hybrid maze surgery combines surgery and catheter-based techniques. We create scar lines (or a maze) and then use a catheter ablation technique to create scars on the inside of the heart.
    • Left atrial appendage closure is used to reduce the risk of stroke in patients with an irregular heartbeat and long-term risk of bleeding (associated with blood thinner medications). This can be done noninvasively or minimally invasively.
  • Coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG) is used to bypass a blockage in one or more heart arteries. We do this by using a blood vessel from another part of your body (like your arm leg or chest) to create a detour around the blockage, restoring blood flow. We offer CABG via open heart surgery, minimally invasive surgery and a hybrid surgical approach that combines minimally invasive surgery with coronary stenting.
  • Heart failure surgery may be needed in advanced heart failure cases to restore heart function. We provide heart transplants and are the region’s only heart transplant program. We also perform surgery to implant ventricular assist devices (VADs) or a total artificial heart to give you the critical treatment you need until you can get a heart transplant.
  • Mitral valve repair and mitral valve replacement are used to treat a leaky or narrowed mitral valve. We offer open heart surgery, minimally invasive surgery and catheter-based approaches, like transcatheter edge-to-edge repair (TEER).
  • Septal myectomy for obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a type of open heart surgery where we shave away excess heart muscle to restore blood flow.
  • Tricuspid valve repair and tricuspid valve replacement help restore blood flow when your heart’s tricuspid valve isn’t working correctly (leaky or narrowed valve). We do this through open heart surgery, minimally invasive surgery and catheter-based therapies.
  • Surgery for infective endocarditis (valve repair and replacement) is for severe heart valve infections when surgical treatment is the only way to avoid heart failure. Depending on the severity of the case, we’ll remove infected tissue or replace the valve with an artificial one.
  • Clinical trials give you access to the most advanced techniques and devices available. Our cardiothoracic surgery program leads a wide range of trials for many of the diseases and conditions we treat.

Research

We conduct a variety of clinical trials to bring you the latest treatment options in cardiovascular surgery – which often are only available here.

Interested in participating in a clinical trial?

Talk to your doctor or call us at 704-373-0212. You can also find more information on our cardiology research page. Search for the clinical trial you’re interested in by name.

Make a referral

When you refer a patient to us, we keep you involved and up to date until your patient can be transitioned back to your care.

Make a referral

We’re renowned experts who provide the latest cardiovascular surgical treatments available.

Meet the team 

We’re leaders in our field, providing advanced cardiovascular surgical treatments and outstanding outcomes. We look forward to meeting and caring for you.

Frequently asked questions

Cardio is the medical term for the heart. And vascular is the medical term for blood vessels. Cardiovascular surgery, also called cardiac surgery or heart surgery, is performed on the heart or the blood vessels (arteries and veins) that carry blood to and from the heart. This type of surgery treats or prevents a variety of diseases and conditions, like a heart arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), heart valve disease (narrowed or leaky valves) or coronary artery disease (artery blockage).

Cardiovascular surgery focuses on surgical treatment of the heart and blood vessels that carry blood to and from the heart.

Cardiothoracic surgery focuses on surgical treatment of the heart and blood vessels in addition to the lungs, esophagus and other organs in the chest.

Cardiovascular surgery treats a wide range of diseases and conditions of the heart and blood vessels, from aortic valve stenosis (narrowed valve) to an aortic aneurysm (bulging of aortic wall).

You may need cardiovascular surgery to treat a disease or condition when nonsurgical options are not an option or are no longer working. 

Your primary care doctor, cardiologist or some other specialist may refer you to a cardiovascular surgeon if they think you need specialized treatment.

Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) is the most common type of cardiovascular surgery. The procedure restores blood flow to the heart when there’s an artery blockage or multiple blockages. We do this by using a blood vessel from another part of the body (like the arm or leg) to create a detour around the blockage, restoring blood flow.

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