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Surgical procedures

In general, heart surgery is needed when normal heart function is compromised by coronary artery disease, heart valve disease and heart defects. Mercyhealth’s board certified cardiothoracic surgeons are adept at a wide variety of procedures, including coronary bypass surgery, bronchoscopy, aneurysm surgery, valve surgery and minimally invasive lung surgery with the daVinci robot-assisted surgery system. All of these procedures are performed in our high-tech cardiac surgical suites by a skilled heart team.

Heart and lung surgery

  • MAZE procedure for heart rhythm correction
    The MAZE procedure is performed to correct atrial fibrillation and improve the quality of life for people with this condition.

  • Minimally invasive lung surgery with the daVinci robot-assisted surgery system
    This procedure requires only a few small incisions that doctors use to insert surgical equipment and a camera for viewing.

Minimally invasive heart procedures

We opt for minimally invasive procedures whenever possible. Our patients are thankful that these life-saving procedures are offered so close to home. These procedures are conducted by a team of highly trained doctors, nurses and radiology technicians in our accredited, state-of-the-art catheterization labs.

  • Cardiac catheterization
    This is one of the most accurate and reliable tests available for measuring heart function and examining the structure of the heart, as well as blood supply to the heart muscle.

  • Coronary (balloon) angioplasty
    When blood vessels that supply the heart become narrowed or blocked by plaque buildup, the end result could be angina (pain), heart attack or death. Fortunately, the cardiologists in Mercyhealth’s cardiac catheterization laboratories can perform a coronary angioplasty that widens the passage of the affected vessel before permanent damage can occur. When balloon angioplasty alone is not enough to restore blood flow to the heart muscle, Mercyhealth’s cardiologists have the option of using coronary stents.

  • Coronary atherectomy
    This is an alternative method of clearing a clogged or narrowed vessel of plaque that is resistant to balloon angioplasty.

  • Percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA)
    PTCA is done to open blocked coronary arteries caused by coronary artery disease. It restores flow of blood through the arteries to the heart without open-heart surgery.

Electrophysiology surgery

Mercyhealth electrophysiologists determine whether a patient would benefit from lifesaving devices, such as cardiac pacemakers and defibrillators, or eliminate the cardiac rhythm disorder by catheter ablation. Our electrophysiologists also implant pacemakers and defibrillators to keep the heart beating properly.

  • Atrial fibrillation (A-fib) ablation
    Mercyhealth performs hundreds of atrial fibrillation ablation procedures each year. Ablation is a treatment of atrial fibrillation which uses heat (radiofrequency ablation) or cold (cryoablation) to destroy the small part of the heart that is sending abnormal electrical signals. Increasingly, this therapy is being considered as an initial option in young people who have symptoms of A-fib who do not wish to take long-term medications. It is also being used increasingly in patients who are having recurrent A-fib, despite using multiple drugs.

  • CardioMEMS™
    The CardioMEMS HF System is an FDA-approved wireless heart failure (HF) monitor that reduces heart failure hospitalizations and improves quality of life. The miniature, wireless monitoring sensor, made by Abbott, is implanted in the pulmonary artery during an outpatient procedure. It measures pulmonary artery pressure, an early indicator of worsening heart failure, to detect fluid buildup several days before a patient notices symptoms.

  • Complex arrhythmia ablation
    Catheter ablation is a procedure that is used to treat certain conditions that cause the heart to beat too fast, for example, supraventricular tachycardia and ventricular tachycardia. Catheter ablation is also used to treat abnormal heart rhythm caused by premature ventricular complexes and premature atrial complexes.

  • Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD)
    An ICD is a battery-powered device placed under the skin that keeps track of your heart rate. Thin wires connect the ICD to your heart. The device delivers an electric shock to restore a normal heartbeat in cases where an abnormal heart rhythm is detected, your heart is beating chaotically or is beating much too fast. An ICD saves lives.

  • Implantable loop recorder
    This heart-monitoring device records your heart rhythm continuously for up to three years. It records the electrical signals of your heart and allows remote monitoring by way of a small device inserted just beneath the skin of the chest.

  • Laser lead extraction
    Lead extraction is the removal of wires (leads) from your heart. The wires are part of an implanted cardiac device. The procedure is performed when there is infection in the device or in the heart causing blood stream infection. The procedure is also performed in the event of a failed or non-functional wires (leads).

  • Micra™ leadless pacemaker
    Dubbed the “world’s smallest pacemaker,” the Micra is about one-tenth the size of a conventional pacemaker and delivers electrical pulses to the heart directly without leads. Four tiny tines anchor the Micra in place and its battery will last up to 12 years. Micra placement is minimally invasive and is inserted into the heart’s right ventricle through a vein in the patient’s groin.

  • Permanent pacemakers
    A pacemaker is a battery-operated device that helps maintain a normal heart rhythm. It sends electrical signals to the heart to stimulate contracting or pumping of the heart muscle. It is designed specifically for patients who have irregular or very slow heart rates and symptoms of fainting or fatigue.

Structural heart procedures

Mercyhealth’s heart care team provides the latest treatment options to patients with structural heart disorders. Minimally invasive treatments are available to patients who may not be candidates for open heart procedures or who may benefit from technology to treat their condition.

  • Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR)
    TAVR is a minimally invasive heart procedure to replace a narrowed aortic valve that fails to open properly.
    During TAVR, a cardiologist and cardiovascular surgeon insert a replacement valve into a catheter and guide it through an artery to the patient’s heart, where a balloon is expanded to press the valve into place.

  • WATCHMAN™ for non-valvular AFib
    WATCHMAN offers an alternative to the lifelong use of warfarin for people with atrial fibrillation not caused by a heart valve problem (also known as non-valvular AFib).
    This permanent heart implant effectively reduces the risk of stroke—without the risk of bleeding that can come with the long-term use of warfarin (the most common blood thinner, also known as Coumadin). WATCHMAN can eliminate the regular blood tests and food-and-drink restrictions that come with warfarin.

Vascular surgery

Mercyhealth has a highly specialized medical team whose focus is managing vascular (blood vessel) disease. Our goal is to consistently provide the highest quality vascular care and services using our state-of-the-art technology. We’re also committed to teaching you about your disease and showing you how you can make lifestyle changes that will enhance your overall health. Our full spectrum of care includes noninvasive testing, angiography, interventional radiology and minimally invasive vascular surgery.

  • Angiography
    This means taking an x-ray while injecting dye to study blood flow in the arteries. The resulting image can be used to examine almost any artery within the body. Often, less-invasive tests, such as magnetic resonance angiography and CT angiography, are used as well.

  • Angioplasty/stents
    In some cases of peripheral artery disease, your physician may recommend angioplasty and stenting. This procedure is considered minimally invasive in comparison to open surgery. It is most effective for more localized blockages in the larger arteries.

  • Arterial bypass
    Arterial bypass is a surgery to reroute the blood supply around a blocked artery in the legs.

  • Carotid angiography/stents
    Using imaging for guidance, the vascular surgeon threads a catheter to the carotid artery, then inflates a balloon to open the blood vessel where it is narrowed or blocked. In some cases, this is then held open with a stent, a tiny, metal, mesh cylinder.

  • Carotid artery surgery
    This procedure is done to restore blood flow to the brain.

  • Endovascular aneurysm repair
    This is a minimally invasive treatment for abdominal aortic aneurysm.

  • Peripheral angioplasty
    Peripheral angioplasty is performed much like that of a PCTA described under minimally invasive heart procedures, but is used to open blocked arteries or remove blood clots in the patient’s legs.

  • Peripheral stents
    When balloon angioplasty alone is not enough to restore blood flow to the peripheral (leg) muscle, we have the option of using peripheral stents. The stent is a stainless steel wire mesh tube mounted on a balloon catheter. The catheter is placed at the site of the blockage and inflated. The balloon expands the stent and compresses the plaque against the wall of the vessel, thus improving blood flow to the leg muscle.

  • Phlebectomy
    This is a method of removing varicose veins on the surface of the legs. It is done in the office under local anesthesia. It involves making tiny punctures or incisions through which the veins are removed. The incisions are so small no stitches are required, and the patient is able to walk the next day.

  • Radiofrequency ablation
    This involves inserting a thin, flexible tube called a catheter into the varicose vein. The tip of the catheter heats the walls of the vein and destroys the vein tissue. Once destroyed, the vein is no longer able to carry blood and is absorbed by the body.

  • Sclerotherapy
    Commonly used to treat both spider and varicose veins. A saline or chemical solution is injected into the veins. This causes them to harden, so they no longer fill with blood. Blood that normally returns to the heart through these veins will now return through other veins. The veins that received the injection eventually shrivel and disappear, and the scar tissue is absorbed by the body.

Learn more

To learn more about these services, call the heart and vascular center nearest you.