Learning you need any type of heart surgery is scary, so you want the best team on your side.
You'll want a skilled and caring surgical team that guides you each step of the way — from preparation through recovery.
At the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute, our heart surgeons will work with you to provide the best, personalized care. Our goal is to improve your heart health and quality of life.
UPMC offers the largest and most complete heart surgery program in Pennsylvania.
Our renowned heart surgeons are national and global experts in open and minimally invasive surgical techniques, including robot-assisted.
Heart Conditions We Treat With Surgery
Whether you have a damaged heart valve or need a heart transplant, UPMC's heart surgeons provide life-changing care. We use the most advanced equipment and techniques and provide the safest, highest quality care.
Surgery may be an option to treat:
- AFib and abnormal heart rhythms. UPMC heart surgeons are experts in minimally invasive techniques to treat irregular heartbeats.
- Aortic diseases. We treat aortic aneurysms (a balloon-like bulge in your aortic lining), dissections (tears in the inner lining), and bicuspid aortic valves.
- Coronary artery disease (CAD) and blocked heart arteries. We're experts in open and minimally invasive coronary artery bypass surgery. We also use minimally invasive techniques to open blocked arteries in your heart.
- Heart defects you're born with.
- Heart failure. We offer heart transplants and implant artificial hearts and ventricular assisted devices (VADs).
- Heart valve and heart muscle problems. UPMC surgeons are experts in minimally invasive techniques to repair heart valves. These include TAVR and TMVR (transcatheter aortic and mitral valve repair or replacement) using the MitraClip®device.
If you've had prior surgery for CAD, valve diseases, or other heart problems, UPMC heart surgeons also offer redo surgeries.
Your surgeon will decide what type of surgery is best for you based on your:
- Heart condition.
- Treatment plan.
- Overall health.
Minimally Invasive Heart Surgery
Based on your needs, our heart surgeons may use minimally invasive surgery to fix your heart.
With this technique, the surgeon doesn't need to open your chest. Instead, they make tiny incisions — often between your ribs — to get to your heart.
The benefits of minimally invasive heart surgery include:
- Smaller incisions and little scarring.
- Less pain and blood loss.
- Fewer complications.
- Shorter hospitals stays — often five days or less.
- Faster recovery times. Many people fully heal within six weeks.
Sometimes, your surgeon will decide that open-heart surgery is a better choice for you.
During open-heart surgery, your surgeon makes a six- to eight-inch incision through your sternum (breastbone) to access your heart.
Open-heart surgery is often a more effective option for:
- Complex heart operations.
- Multiple heart valve or aneurysm repair or replacement.
- Tumor, mass, or tissue removal.
- Heart bypasses.
What Does a Heart-Lung Machine Do During Surgery?
Minimally invasive and open-heart surgeries often use a “heart-lung machine."
- Does the work of your heart and the lungs during the surgery.
- Keeps blood flowing through your body and giving it oxygen.
- Lets surgeons safely stop your heart so they can work on it.
Why Choose UPMC for Heart Surgery?
As a national center of excellence for heart surgery, you have access to world-class heart care close to home.
Our heart surgery programs and centers
Our surgeons treat people through these condition-specific centers and programs:
- Artificial Heart Program. As one of the first programs in the U.S., people with advanced heart failure receive life-saving VADs.
- Center for Heart Valve Disease. When your heart's valves don't work, blood doesn't flow through your heart and body as it should. Experts repair many heart valve problems using minimally invasive surgeries.
- Center for Thoracic Aortic Disease. People with diseases like aortic aneurysms or dissections have immediate access to advanced life-saving treatments. UPMC's surgeons are world-renowned in aortic surgery for people with Marfan syndrome, Loeys Dietz syndrome, and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.
- Heart Transplant Program. Heart transplant surgeons treat the most complex, high-risk people.
The Advanced Heart Surgery Program's noteworthy accomplishments
UPMC's heart surgeons:
- Have done 2,000 TVARs to date and the highest volume of MitraClip implants in Pa.
- Were the first in the nation to implant a HeartMate 2® LVAD device.
- Did the first minimally invasive coronary bypass graft in the tri-state (Pa., W.Va., and Ohio) region.
- Have done more than 20,000 open-heart surgeries in the past 10 years.
- Are of the few in the U.S. that have done more than 1,700 adult heart transplants.
- Have helped pioneer minimally invasive heart surgery techniques, including robotic surgeries.
- Continue to advance new techniques for TAVR surgeries.