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Cardiac surgeons

Cardiac surgeons, also known as heart surgeons, are licensed, highly trained medical professionals who perform a variety of procedures on the human heart, lungs and vessels in the chest cavity.

Types of heart surgery

A heart surgeon performs procedures for an array of heart diseases, including ischemic heart disease (blockage), coronary artery disease, valve stenosis (narrowing), vessel insufficiency, congenital defects and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). During these types of surgery, the heart surgeon may need to replace heart valves, repair an aortic aneurysm, widen clogged arteries or implant a pacemaker and defibrillator.

Some heart surgeons specialize in a specific type of procedure or patient. For example, a pediatric heart surgeon primarily operates on babies, toddlers, young children and teenagers. Other heart surgeons may specialize in a specific type of surgery, such as a heart transplant or open heart surgery, whereas some may choose to have a specialty in pacemakers, implants or artificial hearts.

Before and after heart surgery

Cardiac surgeons typically only do heart surgery with a scheduled surgical appointment, but sometimes they may have to perform emergency surgery to save someone's life. The majority of heart surgeons are employed through a heart heath center or a large hospital with a few working in private practice or a surgical office. Typically, your primary care doctor will diagnosed you before seeing a heart surgeon.

During your first visit with a heart surgeon, you'll fill out extensive amounts of paperwork and give a great deal of medical history so that the surgeon can give a correct diagnosis. In most cases, you'll have completed all testing before your first appointment with the cardiac surgeon, but he or she might order additional screening tests for a more accurately determination of the problem or abnormality. The surgeon will check all the information provided and decide whether you are a candidate for a specific surgery or procedure.

Once you've been scheduled for surgery, you'll visit the hospital before the procedure. This appointment usually takes several hours because you'll undergo a series of tests and receive instructions to prepare for the surgery. You'll take additional medical tests to make sure you are healthy enough for surgery, including an EKG, chest X-ray and blood work. You'll also be given antibacterial soap and an ointment that you will have to use for a few days before the surgery.

fter surgery, you'll be moved to an intensive care unit and then to a step-down unit to complete your recovery. The amount of time you are in the hospital usually depends on the type of surgery being done, but the typical amount of time is usually between three to five days. While you are in the hospital, a full team of skilled professionals will help you, and the cardiac surgeon usually will see you every day.

After you are discharged from the hospital, you will usually have to go to the heart surgeon's office one to two weeks after the surgery. During this appointment, the doctor will examine the incision site and your overall health. If everything is okay, you won't need to see the cardiac surgeon again, but you'll need to go to your cardiologist for check-ups.

Finding a cardiac surgeon

Typically, the only way to make an appointment with a cardiac surgeon is through a referral. If you have an existing heart problem, you must find a cardiologist who will see you on a regular basis. Your cardiologist will recommend you to the cardiac surgeon that they work closely with. You can also consult Angie's List for member reviews and ratings of area heart surgeons.

Once you're referred to a cardiac surgeon, verify with your insurance company that the surgeon in the network. If the surgeon isn't on the insurance company's provider list, you will usually still be able to go to that doctor, but you may have to pay additional fees. It is important that you verify all of this information before you schedule the surgery.