Cardiothoracic surgery

From WikiMD's Health & Wellness Encyclopedia

Coronary artery bypass surgery

In the realm of medicine, cardiothoracic surgery delves into the surgical interventions targeting diseases that afflict organs nestled within the thorax or chest. This broadly encompasses conditions plaguing the heart (known as cardiovascular disease) and the lungs (often referred to as lung disease). Cardiothoracic surgery is acknowledged as a distinct surgical specialty.

Thoracic Surgery

Thoracic surgery is typically associated with surgical treatments of chest ailments, excluding heart-related issues. A general surgeon may possess expertise or show a keen interest in thoracic surgery.

Role of a Cardiothoracic Surgeon

Cardiothoracic surgeons wield the expertise to execute a plethora of complex surgical procedures, including:

  • Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG)
  • Heart valve surgeries
  • Lung volume reduction surgeries
  • Heart and/or lung transplantation procedures
  • Arrhythmia surgeries
  • Thoracic aorta repairs


The history of cardiothoracic surgery is decorated with momentous events and breakthroughs. Pioneering animal experiments conducted by stalwarts like Vladimir Demikhov and Dominique Metras during the 1940s and 1950s bore evidence to the technical feasibility of such procedures.

In 1963, Hardy etched history by accomplishing the first human lung transplantation. The patient, after receiving a left lung transplant, managed to survive for 18 days. The period between 1963 and 1978 witnessed numerous endeavors to perfect lung transplantation, with challenges such as rejection and issues with bronchial healing impeding consistent success.

The epoch-making event of the first human-to-human heart transplantation was spearheaded by Dr. Barnard in South Africa on December 3, 1967. This monumental achievement had its seeds sown in 1905 when a puppy's heart was transplanted into a dog's neck. In the contemporary medical landscape, this surgery is predominantly reserved for individuals grappling with terminal congestive heart failure (CHF) and those beyond the aid of conventional medical interventions.


Cardiothoracic surgery covers a wide spectrum of procedures, divided into the following categories:

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