Banner Health
Making healthcare easier

Heart Surgery and Procedures

Using the latest technology and procedures in heart surgery, Banner Health’s skilled heart surgeons use steady hands to correct structural defects, failing valves and more.

Our team of cardiac experts have many tools available to them when it comes to treating your heart condition. As often as possible, we try to use minimally invasive procedures to treat your heart disease. Many times, these procedures can improve your condition so you can avoid heart surgery.

Minimally Invasive Procedures

Minimally invasive procedures for heart disease include:

Heart ablation procedures

Heart ablation, also known as cardiac ablation, is a procedure to correct heart rhythm disorders and arrhythmias. There are various types of heart ablation procedures used to treat different heart rhythm problems. Some of the common types include radiofrequency ablation, cryoablation, laser ablation, microwave ablation, ultrasound ablation and balloon catheter ablation.

Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR)

Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is used to treat people with aortic valve disease, specifically aortic stenosis. Unlike traditional open-heart surgery, TAVR is a minimally invasive approach that involves threading a new valve through a catheter, usually inserted in the leg, and guiding it to the heart's aortic valve. Once in place, the new valve takes over the role of the damaged valve, allowing for improved blood flow without the need for extensive surgery.

MitraClip (transcatheter mitral valve replacement)

MitraClip, also known as transcatheter mitral valve repair, is a procedure for people with a leaky mitral valve. It involves a catheter-based approach, where a small clip is guided to the heart through a blood vessel, typically in the leg. The clip is then carefully placed to repair the valve, reducing the leakage and improving overall heart function.

WATCHMAN procedure

The WATCHMAN procedure is for people with atrial fibrillation (AFib) who can't tolerate blood-thinning medications. It helps reduce the risk of stroke by preventing blood clots from forming in the heart's left atrial appendage. During the procedure, a small device is placed in this area to block off the potential clot formation.

Patent foramen ovale (PFO) closure

A PFO closure is a procedure that helps treat a small hole in the heart known as a patent foramen ovale (PFO). This procedure reduces the risk of certain health conditions by sealing the hole using specialized devices.

Peripheral vascular intervention

Peripheral vascular intervention is a procedure aimed at improving blood flow in the arteries and veins located outside the heart and brain. It can treat conditions like peripheral artery disease (PAD) and improve circulation to the limbs. Common forms of peripheral vascular intervention include angioplasty, atherectomy and stenting. Angioplasty is a procedure in which a small balloon is inflated inside a narrowed or blocked artery to widen it and improve blood flow. During an atherectomy, a device is inserted into the affected artery to remove or break down the plaque, restoring proper blood circulation. Stenting involves placing a small metal mesh tube (stent) in the artery to keep it open and prevent it from narrowing again.

Pacemaker implants

Pacemakers are small, implantable devices designed to regulate an irregular or slow heart rate. These devices use electrical impulses to help maintain a steady heart rhythm, ensuring that the heart beats at a healthy rate and rhythm. Pacemakers are commonly recommended for individuals with conditions such as bradycardia, where the heart beats too slowly.

Implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD)

An implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) is a small device placed under the skin to monitor heart rhythms and deliver electrical shocks when dangerous irregularities, such as ventricular arrhythmias, are detected. This life-saving device helps restore normal heart rhythms and prevent sudden cardiac arrest.

Other Types of Heart Surgery 

Other types of heart surgery include:

Heart transplant

A heart transplant is a surgical procedure in which a diseased or damaged heart is replaced with a healthy donor heart. This life-saving intervention is considered when other medical treatments are no longer effective in managing severe heart conditions.

Total artificial heart (TAH)

A total artificial heart (TAH) replaces both failing heart ventricles and assists the heart in pumping blood throughout the body. It is a pump device that is controlled from outside the body. It used as a temporary measure for patients with end-stage heart failure while awaiting a heart transplant or as a long-term replacement.

Aortic aneurysm repair

Aortic aneurysm repair is a procedure that treats a weakened or bulging section of the aorta, the body's main artery. This condition, known as an aortic aneurysm, poses a risk of rupture, which can lead to life-threatening bleeding. Aneurysm repair can involve traditional open surgery or minimally invasive techniques such as endovascular stent graft placement.

Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG)

Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) is a procedure used to treat blocked or narrowed coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart muscles. During CABG, a healthy blood vessel from another part of the body is used to create a detour, bypassing the blocked or narrowed artery and restoring blood flow to the heart. This procedure helps improve blood supply to the heart and can relieve symptoms like chest pain (angina) and reduce the risk of heart attacks.

Valve replacement surgery

Valve replacement surgery is a procedure used to replace damaged or malfunctioning heart valves with artificial or biological substitutes. When heart valves do not function properly, they can impair blood flow and strain the heart. Valve replacement surgery helps restore normal blood circulation and improves overall heart function. In additional to minimally invasive procedures like TAVR and MitraClip, other common valve replacement procedures include mechanical valve replacement, biological valve replacement (bioprosthesis) and the Ross procedure.

Carotid artery surgery

Carotid artery surgery, also known as carotid endarterectomy, is a procedure designed to treat carotid artery disease, which involves the narrowing or blockage of the carotid arteries in the neck. These arteries supply blood to the brain and blockages can increase the risk of strokes. During the surgery, the narrowed or blocked portion of the carotid artery is carefully removed or opened to improve blood flow to the brain.

How do I prepare for heart surgery?

It's normal to worry about a heart procedure, but the Banner Health heart care team is here to answer your questions and help you prepare with all the information and reassurance you need. Before your heart surgery, you will meet with your doctor to get specific instructions for your surgery.

To help you get ready, here are some steps to consider:

  • Stay in touch with your health care team. They'll guide you on what to expect and provide detailed instructions for your surgery day.
  • Talk to your doctor about your current medications. They'll let you know which ones to continue taking and which ones to adjust before the surgery.
  • You'll likely need to fast before the surgery. Your health care team will let you know when to stop eating and drinking.
  • You might need some tests before the surgery, like blood work and an electrocardiogram (ECG). These tests ensure a comprehensive understanding of your health.
  • If you smoke, consider quitting before surgery. Avoid alcohol as well, as it can interfere with anesthesia and medications.
  • Arrange for someone to help you after the surgery. You might need assistance with daily tasks during your recovery.
  • Organize your living space for comfort and convenience during your recovery period.

Following your doctor’s guidance and taking these steps will contribute to a smoother and successful surgery experience.

On the day of your surgery, when you arrive at the hospital, a staff member will admit you and take you to the pre-op holding room. There, your team of nurses and doctors will get you ready for surgery. We’ll communicate with you and your family during the entire process and provide education and information to help you make informed decisions. Don't hesitate to ask your health care team any questions you have about the procedure, recovery, or any concerns you might have.

How does heart surgery work?

Heart surgery is a carefully planned procedure that involves several steps to improve heart function and overall health. Here's a simplified overview:

  • Preparation: You'll be given anesthesia to ensure you're asleep and pain-free during the surgery. Monitoring devices will be placed to keep track of your vital signs.
  • Incision: If you are having a minimally invasive procedure, you may have one or several small incisions. Open-chest surgeries, including open-heart bypass surgery and some valve replacement surgeries, require an incision in the middle of your chest. Some types of surgery also require an incision in your leg or groin to get to your arteries or remove a vessel to be used for heart surgery.
  • Heart-lung bypass: During many heart surgeries, a heart-lung machine takes over the work of your heart and lungs, temporarily circulating blood and oxygen throughout your body. This allows your surgeon to work on a still heart.
  • Procedure: Depending on the type of surgery, the surgeon will repair or replace damaged heart valves, clear blocked arteries or address other heart issues.
  • Closing: After the surgery is complete, the surgeon will close the incision using stitches or staples. Small tubes may be left in place temporarily to drain fluids from the chest.
  • Recovery: You'll be moved to a recovery area where you'll be carefully monitored as you wake up from anesthesia. Once stable, you'll be taken to a hospital room to begin the recovery process.

How long does heart surgery take?

The length of heart surgery can vary depending on the type of procedure and individual factors. Generally, heart surgeries can last anywhere from 2 to 6 hours. More complex surgeries might take longer, while minimally invasive procedures could be shorter. Your health care team will provide you with a more accurate estimate based on your specific surgery.

What happens right after heart surgery?

Right after heart surgery, you'll be moved to a specialized recovery area, the cardiovascular intensive care unit (CICU). Your medical team will closely monitor your vital signs as you wake up from anesthesia. Tubes and monitoring devices will be in place to ensure your comfort and safety. During your stay in the CICU, your family members and friends can visit you for short periods of time. Banner Health CICU includes remote monitoring, called iCare. This lets physicians work directly with you and your caregivers at your bedside 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Most people experience some pain after surgery, although everyone responds a little differently. Your team will work with you to help manage your pain and make you as comfortable as possible while you recover. Your health care team will work to manage your pain, control any potential complications and make sure you're stable as you start your recovery journey. They'll be there to answer your questions and support you every step of the way.

Once you are stable, we'll take you to your hospital room. You can expect to stay in the hospital for 4 to 5 days, although it could be shorter or longer, depending on the type of surgery and your cardiac recovery.

When you're ready to go home, we'll give you a prescription for pain medication and instructions on how to get better at home. Your doctor will let you know when you can go back to work and drive. Your team will also talk to you about a plan for cardiac rehabilitation.