• Cardiac Surgery

  • heart surgery Cardiac surgery is done to correct problems with the heart. More than half a million heart surgery are done each year in the United States for many heart problems. The cardiac surgeons at the Penrose-St. Francis Heart & Vascular Center perform more heart surgeries than any other hospital in Colorado. The most common type of cardiac surgery for adults is coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG). During CABG, surgeons use healthy arteries or veins taken from another part of the body to bypass, or go around, blocked heart arteries. CABG relieves chest pain and reduces the risk of heart attack.

    Penrose-St. Francis has the busiest heart surgery program in Colorado.

    Cardiac surgery also is done to:

    • Repair or replace valves that control the direction of blood flow through the heart
    • Repair abnormal or damaged structures in the heart
    • Implant medical devices that help control the heartbeat or support heart function and blood flow
    • Replace a damaged heart with a healthy heart from a donor

    Traditional cardiac surgery, often called open-heart surgery, is done by opening the chest wall to operate on the heart. Surgeons cut through the patient's breastbone (or just the upper part of it) to open the chest. Many heart surgery can now be done through small incisions (cuts) between the ribs. This is called minimally-invasive heart surgery . This type of heart surgery may or may not use a heart-lung bypass machine. The results of heart surgery in adults often are excellent. Heart surgery can reduce symptoms, improve quality of life, and increase lifespan.

    Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery
    Coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG) is done to reroute or "bypass" blood around clogged arteries to improve blood flow and oxygen to the heart.  A healthy blood vessel from another part of the body is used to bring new blood flow around the blockage, allowing blood to flow freely again to the heart muscle. Dr. Mehall routinely uses the technique of bilateral mammary artery grafting, a strategy with the highest long-term survival and graft patency. Bypass surgery can be performed either with the heart-lung machine or on the beating heart, depending on the needs of the patient.

    Heart Valve Surgery
    When a valve doesn't open all the way or leaks, blood doesn't move through the heart's chambers properly. This can result in the heart having to work harder to pump the same amount of blood, or even a backup of blood in the lungs or body. In heart valve surgery, one or more valves are either repaired or replaced.  Penrose Cardiac, Thoracic and Vascular Surgery is experienced in all facets of valve surgery, including mitral/aortic/tricuspid valve repair and replacement. Dr. Mehall has particular expertise in minimally invasive mitral valve repair. Successful mitral valve repair has been achieved in over 90 percent of patients to date.  Mitral valve repairs are performed minimally invasively without splitting the breastbone in over 90 percent of cases.  The average hospital stay following minimally invasive mitral valve repair is four days.  

    Atrial Fibrillation Surgery
    Penrose Cardiac, Thoracic and Vascular Surgery has been at the forefront of atrial fibrillation surgery for almost a decade and was one of the first programs in the nation to pursue surgical ablation of atrial fibrillation.  Ablation for atrial fibrillation can be performed on the beating heart without dividing the breastbone, using a variety of minimally invasive approaches depending on the patient's needs. Patients who have atrial fibrillation and are undergoing traditional open heart surgery for other reasons are offered concomitant atrial fibrillation ablation at the time of their open heart surgery.  Procedures to treat atrial fibrillation include removal of the left atrial appendage, the major source of strokes in atrial fibrillation patients.  The goal of the procedure is to restore the heart's normal rhythm by interrupting certain "short circuits" in the atrium, which can be accomplished in most cases.

    Aortic Surgery
    Aortic surgery can be performed using a traditional open approach, or using an endovascular approach. With endovascular surgery, a graft is guided up through the arterial system into the diseased aorta. The graft is then deployed to exclude blood flow from the diseased area. Not all aortic diseases can be treated using endovascular surgery and your surgeon will discuss the options for your particular problem.

    Minimally-Invasive Aortic and Mitro Valve Repair/Replacement
    Penrose Cardiac, Thoracic and Vascular Surgery is the leading minimally-invasive cardiac surgery program in Colorado and the only hospital to perform minimally-invasive aortic and mitro valve repair/replacement. Minimally-invasive cardiac surgery is performed without dividing the breastbone and may include robotic-assisted surgery using the da Vinci® surgical robot. Whether robotics are utilized or not, the patient experience is similar and averages only four days in the hospital.

    Minimally invasive cardiac procedures include:
    • Mitral valve repair or replacement
    • Aortic valve replacement
    • Cardiac tumors
    • Atrial septal defect closure
    • Ventricular pacing lead placement

    Benefits of minimally invasive surgery include:
    • Shorter hospital stay
    • Less pain
    • Lower need for blood transfusions
    • Faster recovery/quicker return to daily and professional activities
    • Decreased use of pain medications
    • Decreased risk of infection
    • Smaller incisions with minimal scarring

    "Bloodless" Surgery- Blood Conservation
    Penrose Cardiac, Thoracic and Vascular Surgery is a leader in blood conservation. Meticulous attention to all aspects of blood conservation enables Penrose
    Cardiothoracic Surgery to offer cardiac surgery with transfusion rates below the national average. Dr. Mehall has experience performing cardiac surgery on Jehovah's Witnesses.