What Is Cardiothoracic Surgery?
Cardiothoracic (kar-dee-oh-theh-RA-sik) surgery is the surgical specialty that treats diseases and problems of the heart and chest with surgery.
What Is a Cardiothoracic Surgeon?
A cardiothoracic surgeon is a doctor who does surgery to treat problems that affect the heart and chest.
Why Would Someone Need One?
Cardiothoracic surgeons diagnose and treat:
- heart problems that are present at birth
- heart problems that develop later in life
- problems with heart valves
- cancers in the chest
They do many different medical procedures, including:
What Is Their Training?
Cardiothoracic surgeon training includes:
- 4 years of pre-medical education at a college or university
- 4 years of medical school — a medical degree (MD) or doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) degree
- 4–5 years of a general surgery residency then 2–3 years of cardiothoracic surgery residency or a 6-year cardiothoracic surgery residency
They also might do a fellowship in a subspecialty such as pediatric or transplant cardiothoracic surgery or cardiac surgery. A “fellow” is a doctor who undergoes more specialty training after completing medical school and a residency.
Good to Know
Cardiothoracic surgeons diagnose and treat problems in all organs of the chest including the lungs, esophagus, and heart. Cardiac surgeons get extra training in a fellowship and focus on problems of the heart.