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More information about cardiac surgery

Surgical activity 

The BHI currently undertakes 1500-1600 adult cardiac operations per year. These encompass the whole range of adult cardiac activity with the exceptions of transplantation and mechanical circulatory support. Cardiac surgery 2

50-60% of the activity is the surgery of ischaemic heart disease, where blockages develop in the coronary arteries and coronary artery bypass grafting is necessary. In the BHI about 70-80% of these procedures are performed on the beating heart and the BHI is one of the UK's leading centres with respect to this technique.  Where the narrowings are limited to one or two of the coronary arteries, this procedure can sometimes be carried out safely through a 'keyhole' approach. Patients can usually expect to spend one night on the cardiac intensive care unit and be discharged from the hospital five to seven days afterwards. 

30% of our clinical activity revolves around repair or replacement of the valves of the heart. Disease of the heart valves that need surgery most commonly affects the aortic and mitral valves. Aortic valve disease is very common in older people and the diseased valve is usually replaced with a biological prosthesis made of animal tissues. Quite often valve replacement procedures are combined with operations to bypass the blocks in the coronary arteries at the same time. The mitral valve when it is leaking is better repaired than replaced and we have a number of surgeons with particular expertise in this area. Some of these operations are done by a minimally invasive approach through a keyhole incision aided by special cameras inside the chest cavity. These kind of approaches can lead to a shorter hospital stay and a shorter recovery period. 

Approximately 5-10% of our activity involves the surgical replacement of sections of the thoracic aorta, in particular the treatment of aneurysms of the aorta where the blood vessel gets very enlarged. In some clinical cases the aorta can be replaced by introducing endovascular stents which replace the aorta which can save the patient a major operation. 

In a further 5-10% of patients surgery will be required in adult life to treat conditions arising from congenital heart disease. A much greater number of patients are now surviving to adult life and they require lifelong follow up and care. This kind of surgery can cut across the whole range - closing holes in the heart, replacing or repairing heart valves and treating abnormalities of the main blood vessels.   


Society for Cardiothoracic Surgery - Adult Cardiac Surgery Activity.