Cardiovascular and thoracic surgeons specialize in and operate on the heart, lungs, chest, and blood vessels. They repair damage caused by diseases or disorders of the cardiovascular system, including:
A Team Approach
A diagnosis of heart disease often begins with a primary care physician, who refers his or her patient to a cardiologist. If the patient has a condition that requires surgery, the cardiologist refers the patient to the cardiovascular surgeon. Before, during, and after heart surgery, patients remain under the care of their cardiologist because the cardiologist and cardiovascular surgeon work closely together to provide joint care during the surgical procedure and recovery. Other members of the surgical team include the cardiovascular anesthesiologist, the perfusionist, the cardiovascular pathologist, the physician assistants who assist in the operating room and see patients in the hospital or office, emergency room staff, the operating room staff, and the intensive care unit staff.
After earning a bachelor’s degree, cardiovascular and thoracic surgeons spend 4 years in medical school and another 3 to 4 years training to become a general surgeon. After choosing the further specialization of cardiovascular and/or thoracic surgery, they typically complete another 1 to 3 years (or more) of training.
Texas Heart Institute www.texasheartinstitute.com/HIC/Topics/FAQ/wicvsurg.cfm