Cardiac Surgery

When you need heart surgery, trust the caring experts at UNC Medical Center to help you achieve the best outcome possible. You’ll be treated as an individual every step of the way. Our multidisciplinary team gets to know you, develops a treatment plan for your specific condition and helps you heal so you can return to a better quality of life.

Heart Surgery Experts

At UNC Medical Center, you benefit from our experience. We specialize in treating complex medical issues, such as heart failure, heart valve disorders, diabetes, end-stage renal disease and blood clotting disorders.

Following your surgery, you’ll receive the highest level of care as you heal in an intensive care unit that’s earned a gold-level level Beacon Award for Excellence from the American Association of Critical Care Nurses. And we’ll help you get back to the activities you love through our cardiac rehabilitation program.

If your child has a heart condition that requires surgery, you’ll find specialized services at a children’s hospital long known for being a leader in the care of children with congenital heart disease.

Pioneering Minimally Invasive Treatments

Whenever possible, your heart condition will be treated with less-invasive procedures. UNC is one of the pioneers in increasing use of these advanced procedures as replacements for traditional surgery. Because of that, you’ll find options not available at most hospitals in the United States. The benefit to you? Less pain and scarring, less blood loss, a lower risk of infection and a quicker recovery.

Interventional Procedures

If your condition can be treated with a nonsurgical interventional cardiology procedure, your doctor will use images to guide a long thin tube called a catheter through a small incision in your groin, arm or neck to your heart. These procedures are usually performed in a cardiac catheterization lab.

Minimally Invasive ‘Keyhole’ Surgery

If you qualify for minimally invasive heart surgery, also called keyhole surgery, your surgeon will make small incisions on the right side of your chest and perform the operation through your ribs. Your breastbone will remain intact. You may need to be on a heart-lung bypass machine, which takes over your heart’s pumping action while the surgeon works.

Surgical Treatment for Arrhythmia

If your heart needs help maintaining a normal rhythm, you’ll work with electrophysiologists to determine the best treatment for your condition. If surgery is your best option, you may benefit from:

Surgical Treatment for Heart Failure

If you have congestive heart failure (CHF), your heart needs help supplying blood to your body. Your medical team at UNC will work with you to determine the best treatment for your specific condition so you can return to a better quality of life. If surgery is your best option, you may benefit from:

  • Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) – Diverts blood flow from narrowed or blocked blood vessels by using a healthy blood vessel taken from another part of your body (a graft) to create a new pathway for your blood to flow to your hear
    • You may be among the one-third of our patients who qualify for off-pump, or “beating heart” surgery
  • Heart valve repair or replacement – Repairs or replaces a damaged valve with a new valve; valves may be mechanical or made of tissue from an animal, a human donor or your own tissue
    • Minimally invasive options available
  • Ventricular assist device (VAD) implant – Helps move blood from the lower chambers of your heart out to your body; the mechanical pump may be used as a bridge treatment when you wait for a heart transplant or as destination therapy, meaning it remains implanted for the rest of your life.
    • We’re one of only four centers in North Carolina approved by Medicare to implant VADs as a destination therapy.
    • Our VAD destination therapy program earned a Gold Seal of Approval™ from The Joint Commission, a sign of our commitment to the highest level of care.
  • Heart transplant – Replaces your failing heart with a healthier donor heart

Contact Us

Call the Heart & Vascular Center referral line at 866-862-4327 to find specialists, make an appointment or learn more about preventing heart disease.

Open Access is a new physician referral service, created by the UNC Center for Heart & Vascular Care, which coordinates all admissions and transfers through a single phone call and guarantees immediate acceptance for patients. Please contact us to learn more or call 866-862-4327.

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