What is a cardiac surgeon?
A cardiac surgeon is a medical doctor who performs surgery on the heart and the major blood vessels around it. There are several different medical specialties that a cardiac surgeon may fall under, some of which have overlapping areas of focus.
What is cardiac surgery?
Cardiac surgery is any kind of surgical procedure performed on your heart or any related blood vessels near where they connect to the heart. In some cases, these surgeries may involve the tissues or structures immediately next to the heart.
What are the different types of cardiac surgeons?
Cardiac surgeons typically fall into two professional specialties. While there are many similarities and overlaps in their practice, a few differences are big enough to group them differently.
Sometimes called a cardiothoracic surgeon or a general thoracic surgeon, this specialty gets its name from the Greek word for “chest.” As the name suggests, cardiothoracic surgeons specialize in surgeries on most organs and tissues found in the chest. This can include surgeries on the heart and connected major blood vessels, the lungs, esophagus (which connects your mouth to your stomach) and trachea (windpipe). Some thoracic surgeons may choose to only focus on conditions involving the heart, pericardium (a sac around the heart) and major blood vessels of the heart. Others may choose to focus on other conditions excluding the heart and major blood vessels.
Congenital/pediatric heart surgeon
A congenital or pediatric heart surgeon focuses on repairing structural problems or anomalies that a person has when they’re born. This can include problems with heart valves, holes in the walls between the heart’s chambers, and more.
While some surgeons focus on doing these surgeries in adults — as it is not uncommon that a congenital heart problem diagnosis happens when someone is an adult — others specialize in these surgeries on children, infants and newborns. Their practice is extremely specialized and there are very pediatric heart surgeons compared to those who practice only on adults.