Heart & Vascular Surgery

Some heart and vascular conditions can be treated with medications or minimally invasive procedures. Others, however, may require heart and vascular surgery. If you are a patient in the Mid-South who may need cardiovascular surgery, don't worry. You are in good hands at Baptist, since we are a pioneer in cardiovascular surgery.

Particularly, Baptist has experience performing a wide range of heart and vascular surgical procedures, including the following:

Angioplasty

This procedure is conducted to treat blocked arteries, decrease chest pain (angina), improve heart function for increased physical activity, reduce heart attack risk and help prevent stroke.

What to expect: The surgeon will insert special tubing with an inflatable balloon into the coronary arteries. Once the tubing is in place, the balloon is inflated to widen the blocked area. This will restore blood flow to the area of the heart that has been cut off or reduced, greatly improving heart function and health. This procedure does not involve any cutting of the skin and can take anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours.

Artificial Heart Valve Surgery

When a dysfunctional or diseased heart valve needs replaced, artificial heart valve surgery may be the proper treatment method. This procedure restores correct function to the heart valves.

What to expect: The surgeon will replace the diseased heart valve with a healthy one. This procedure is invasive and does involve cutting of the skin.

Atherectomy

Another way to restore blood flow in the arteries is to perform an atherectomy, which reduces plaque buildup. This procedure may also be used in the carotid arteries which can help reduce stroke risk.

What to expect: An atherectomy is very similar to an angioplasty except instead of inflating a small balloon inside the artery, the surgeon will use a catheter with a rotating shaver at the tip to shave away plaque buildup.

Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery

This is one of the most common heart and vascular surgical procedures performed in the United States. It is conducted to improve the blood supply to the heart, relieve chest pain (angina), decrease heart attack risk and improve heart function for physical activity.

What to expect: This invasive procedure takes arteries or veins from other parts of the body (known as grafts) and uses them to "bypass" a blocked artery and restore blood flow to the heart. It is not unusual for a patient to have more than one bypass graft, depending on how many blocked arteries they have. This is a more serious procedure that requires a longer hospital stay because it is invasive and requires the heart to be stopped during the surgery.

Heart Transplant

When no other procedure is effective or is an appropriate option to restore heart health, a person may require a heart transplant. This procedure is a proven method to restore complete heart function.

What to expect: The diseased heart is removed from the body and is replaced with a healthy human heart from an organ donor. A heart transplant is a very invasive procedure and requires a longer hospital stay than other surgeries.

Limited Access Coronary Artery Surgery

This minimally invasive procedure is an alternative to a traditional coronary artery bypass surgery. It is conducted to manage blood flow to the heart by improving blood supply that has been limited by a blocked or clogged artery. It can relieve chest pain (angina), reduce heart attack risk and improve physical ability.

What to expect: Small incisions are made in the chest, in which chest arteries or leg veins are then attached to the heart so the blocked coronary artery can be bypassed. When the surgeon inserts the instruments into the small incisions, images on a video monitor guide the surgeon to the proper locations. The benefit to this procedure is that not only is it minimally invasive, but the heart is not stopped, unlike a traditional coronary artery bypass surgery.

Pacemaker or Defibrillator Implantation

Some patients may require a temporary or permanent pacemaker or defibrillator to help control the heartbeat. This procedure implants such a device and is usually performed while the patient is awake under a sedative to relax. The area where the pacemaker or defibrillator is inserted will be numb.

What to expect: One or more small, flexible wires are inserted into a major vein near the collarbone. With the help of X-ray images, the wires are guided to the heart. One end of each wire is secured in the proper position in the heart, and the other end is attached to a pulse generator implanted under the skin near the collarbone. For more information, watch the short video below.

Radiofrequency Ablation

When a patient has a heart arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm), this procedure can help treat the problem. It is a minimally invasive procedure also known as catheter ablation.

What to expect: A small catheter containing an electrode is guided through the veins to the heart muscle. The surgeon views moving X-rays on a video screen to guide the catheter to the right location, at which a mild, painless radiofrequency energy is transmitted through the catheter. That energy destroys certain heart muscle cells in order to cure the electrical signal problem that caused the abnormal heart rhythm.

Stent Procedure

When a patient experiences chest pain (angina) or low blood flow to the heart, they may benefit from a stent procedure, which is designed to hold open the artery and restore blood flow.

What to expect: The surgeon will place a wire mesh tube into the artery during an angioplasty (described above), which he leaves in the artery permanently to keep it propped open.

Baptist Memorial Health Care may perform additional heart and vascular surgeries not mentioned here. Speak with your doctor for more information about the specific heart and vascular procedure you may be undergoing.

If you are preparing to undergo one of the heart and vascular procedures mentioned above, learn what to expect prior to your surgery here.

Heart and Vascular

Learn more about Baptist cardiology services, risk factors for heart disease and more in the Heart and Vascular Frequently Asked Questions.

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