Cardiovascular surgery is a specialized field of medicine that focuses on treating conditions affecting the heart and blood vessels and aims to treat cardiovascular diseases. Cardiovascular surgeons complete 5 years of cardiovascular surgery specialization training after 6 years of medical education.
Cardiovascular health may be affected by conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels and can range from mild to severe. In addition, cardiovascular diseases are the most common cause of death worldwide. Individuals of all ages have an undeniable risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. For this reason, cardiovascular surgery units are one of the key branches of hospitals.
Cardiovascular Surgery - Types of Heart Disease
There are various treatment methods for cardiovascular diseases and these are evaluated according to the type of the disease, its course, and the current condition of the patient. Surgical treatments make up a significant portion of these, and heart surgeons treat a variety of these diseases, including the most common ones below.
Coronary Artery Disease
This is one of many common circulatory diseases where plaque buildup causes the arteries that carry blood to the heart to constrict or become clogged. Angina (chest pain) and heart attacks are possible outcomes of coronary artery disease. This issue may be treated with cardiovascular surgery by techniques like coronary artery bypass surgery, which involves constructing a bypass around the blocked artery using a healthy blood vessel from another body part.
Heart Valve Disease and Related Problems
Four valves of the heart assist in controlling blood flow through the organ. These valves may not operate effectively if they develop injury or disease, which can cause issues like heart failure. Valve problems may be fixed or replaced through cardiovascular valve surgery.
When one or more coronary arteries narrow or block, the heart loses blood supply, which results in a heart attack. The heart muscle may suffer long-term harm as a result of this. Cardiovascular surgery may be used to treat heart attacks through techniques like angioplasty, in which a tiny balloon is used to open the blocked artery or coronary artery bypass surgery.
The heart is rendered incapable of pumping sufficient blood to fulfill the body's requirements under this state. Numerous conditions, such as coronary artery disease, excessive blood pressure, and issues with the heart valves, might contribute to it. Heart valve surgery and coronary artery bypass grafting are two examples of cardiovascular surgery operations that can be performed to treat heart failure.
An untreated bulge in the body's main artery, the aorta, poses a risk of rupture. The damaged aorta segment may be replaced or repaired through cardiovascular surgery.
Atrial fibrillation is an irregular heartbeat that can cause several cardiac diseases and issues, including a higher risk of stroke. Through techniques like the Maze procedure, where scar tissue is formed in the heart to block aberrant electrical signals, cardiovascular surgery may be utilized to treat atrial fibrillation.
Although this is not a comprehensive list, those mentioned above are a few examples of the types of cardiovascular disease that may be treated with cardiovascular surgery.
What Are the Common Heart Surgery Types?
Coronary bypass surgery
Diseases such as blockage of the vessels feeding the heart (coronary artery diseases), heart attack, and heart failure are among the most common causes of death. Narrowing or blockage of the coronary arteries results in the heart's inability to feed and function. After the blocked or narrowed coronary vessel part is determined by coronary angiography, bypass surgery is planned.
With this cardiac surgery, the heart tissue that cannot be fed is delivered to the blood by a vein taken from another part of the body (for example, the leg vein or another artery). Depending on the patient's condition, coronary bypass surgeries can be performed with or without a heart-lung machine (in the beating heart).
Cardiothoracic surgery is a type of surgery that involves a cardiothoracic surgeon treating diseases and conditions affecting the heart, esophagus, lungs, and chest wall. This type of surgery may be used to treat various conditions, such as coronary artery disease, heart failure, and lung cancer. Some standard procedures that are part of cardiothoracic surgery are coronary artery bypass surgery, heart valve surgery, and lung transplant surgery.
Heart valve surgery
Heart valve surgery is used to repair a damaged heart valve. When a damaged or diseased valve needs to be replaced, the procedure is called a heart valve replacement surgery. The heart has four valves – the aortic, mitral, tricuspid, and pulmonary valves – that help to regulate the flow of blood through the heart.
If these valves become damaged or diseased, they may not function properly, causing problems such as heart failure. Heart valve replacement surgery may be used to repair the affected valve or to replace it with a mechanical or biological valve.
Complex aortic surgeries
Surgical treatments of aneurysms that occur as a result of aortic dissection or vasodilation due to rupture of the aortic vessel due to exposure to high pressure and separation of the wall layers from each other are included in this group.
Heart tumor surgeries
It is the surgical treatment of tumors involving any or all of the myocardium, endocardium, epicardium, and pericardium layers of the heart.
Insertion of a pacemaker
These are surgical operations applied for the placement of pacemakers that support the heart that slows down and weakens due to problems in the electrical conduction system and for the treatment of heart failure.
Surgical procedures of the pericardium
Pericardiectomy surgery should be performed when the heart membrane thickens and prevents the heart from performing its functions. Such surgeries are called pericardium surgeries.
Recurring heart surgeries (reoperation)
In patients who have had heart surgery before, high-risk reoperations that should be performed in most professional centers are included in this group.
Ventricular assist device systems (VAD)
These are surgeries in which advanced technology artificial heart support devices are placed, which take on the task of pumping blood to the heart in patients with end-stage heart failure.
In vitro temporary life support (ECMO)
In cases of life-threatening heart and lung failure, these are the operations in which the ECMO device, which undertakes the task of these organs, is inserted.
Heart transplant surgeries
It is a surgical application to cure the most serious cases of heart disease. A heart transplant operation can be performed if there is a donor corpse with tissue compatibility, as a heart disease treatment.
Occlusive diseases of the arterial system (atherosclerosis), and inappropriate enlargement (aneurysm) are the main vascular diseases. If such problems are diagnosed after angiography, artery surgeries are performed. Removing occlusive plaques and planning surgical bypasses of the vessel are the most commonly used techniques in these operations.
These are the operations performed for the treatment of varicose veins, which are the most well-known diseases of the vein system and other venous diseases.
Congenital heart defects and pediatric surgeries
Defective development of the heart in the womb can lead to abnormalities such as holes in the heart, stenosis, and wrong vascular connection. Treatment of such conditions is carried out with congenital heart surgery. These problems may pose a risk for the healthy growth and development of the baby or child, or they may also be life-threatening.
- Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome: There is developmental delay in the structures located on the left side of the heart. Early diagnosis is very important and a gradual surgical treatment plan should be made.
- Total Pulmonary Venous Return Anomaly: It is a rare congenital heart disease in which the veins that bring blood from the lungs to the heart are connected to the wrong place. The treatment is to correct the wrong vascular structure with surgery.
- Truncus Arteriosus: It is a condition in which only one major vessel emerges from the heart. There is also the possibility of co-occurrence of ventricular septal defect (VSD). It requires early diagnosis and surgical treatment.
- Tricuspid Atresia and Pulmonary Atresia: Both are diseases in which congenital structural problems related to heart valves are seen. Treatments are surgical operations that can be performed with different techniques.
- Transposition of the Great Arteries (TGA): It is one of the most common and most important congenital heart anomalies. Since the aorta is connected to the right ventricle, oxygen-poor venous blood is pumped to the body. Since the pulmonary artery is connected to the left ventricle, oxygen-rich blood is pumped back to the lungs. Transposition of these great arteries means that the baby is at risk from birth and requires immediate surgical operation.
- Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF): Four congenital problems coexist in tetralogy of Fallot:
- Artery (pulmonary artery) valve stenosis that goes from the heart to the lungs,
- Opening between left and right ventricles (ventricular septal defect –VSD-)
- Displacement of the aorta towards the right ventricle.
- Thickening (hypertrophy) of the right ventricle. Surgical correction surgery is essential.
- Aortic Coarctation: It is a narrowing problem in the aorta and can be treated with surgery.
- Aortic Stenosis: Aortic valve stenosis (aortic stenosis) is a condition that interferes with blood flow between the left ventricle and aorta. The most common type of congenital aortic stenosis is aortic valve stenosis. The necessity of surgery is determined by the healing tendency and the severity of the stenosis.
- Atrioventricular Septal Defect (ASD): It is the problem that the wall (septum) between the atria, which are the structures of the heart known as the atria, is not completely closed, means that there is a transition between the right and left atrium. The necessity of surgery is determined by the healing tendency and the severity of the problem.
- Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD): VSD is a hole in the wall between the two ventricles of the heart. The necessity of surgery is determined by the healing tendency and the severity of the problem.
- Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA): Blood flows between the pulmonary vein and the aorta. Treatment can be performed by closing the passage between the surgical operation.
Taking Good Care of Your Heart!
All cardiovascular surgery types are complex and delicate procedures that require a high level of skill and expertise. They are typically performed by cardiovascular surgeons, who work closely with a team of medical professionals to ensure the best possible outcome for their patients. It is important to discuss the potential risks and benefits of a heart operation with your medical team and to carefully consider your options before making a decision.
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