Cardiovascular Institute

Cardiac Surgery

The Cardiac Surgery Program at the Cardiovascular Institute is nationally recognized for pioneering some of the most advanced procedures for heart disease. Our heart surgeons have vast experience performing the simplest to most complex heart and vascular procedures. These include state-of-the-art minimally invasive techniques and innovative robotic procedures to treat a range of heart conditions. 

Why the Cardiovascular Institute?

  • Among the best cardiac surgery programs in the United States for the last few decades with surgeons who are forerunners in performing advanced surgery techniques and using novel devices to treat heart conditions
  • Utilize the most sophisticated diagnostic tools to detect cardiovascular disease quickly and accurately
  • One of the few medical centers in the country performing robotically assisted, minimally invasive mitral valve repair surgery; pioneering a convergent procedure to treat A-fib; and utilizing ECMO to drastically improve survival rates of patients with cardiogenic shock or profound respiratory failure
  • Heart transplant patient survival rates that are the best in Pittsburgh and higher than the country’s national average
  • The only American Heart Association-accredited Heart Attack Receiving Center in western Pennsylvania
  • Multidisciplinary approach to cardiac care, illustrating teamwork on every front to ensure you are receiving an all-encompassing treatment plan that leads to a positive outcome
  • Patient-centric environment where our team focuses on you and your specific condition, symptoms and circumstances rather than treating every patient with the same approach
Our cardiovascular surgery physicians and other medical professionals have advanced training and extensive experience with many conditions and surgical procedures, including:

Aortic aneurysm

Thoracic aortic aneurysm is a ballooning, weakened area in the upper portion of the aorta. It may also be called thoracic aneurysm and aortic dissection (TAAD) because an aneurysm can lead to a tear in the artery wall and can cause fatal bleeding. Slow-growing and small thoracic aortic aneurysms may not ever rupture but fast-growing, large ones may.

Treatment depends on the size and growth rate of the aneurysm because the goal is to prevent it from rupturing. Our multidisciplinary team collaborates to develop an optimal treatment plan. Options include:

Thoracic aortic aneurysm open chest surgery is when surgeons replace the damaged portion of your aorta with a synthetic tube called a graft that is sewn into place. Patients are usually discharged within five to six days and typically recover in about six weeks. 

Thoracic endovascular aneurysm repair surgery (TEVAR) is a minimally invasive procedure where only two small groin incisions are made rather than a large chest incision needed for traditional surgery. A synthetic tube (a graft) is attached to the end of a thin tube called a catheter, which is fed through an artery from the groin to your aorta. The graft is then expanded and attaches to the wall of the aorta. This allows blood to pass through it and removes pressure from the weakened section of the aortic wall, preventing the aneurysm from rupturing.

Atrial fibrillation

Cardiac rhythm management

Cardiogenic shock and respiratory failure

Two of the most immediately life-threatening heart conditions that we treat are cardiogenic shock and respiratory failure. With cardiogenic shock, the heart can no longer pump as much blood as it needs. Respiratory failure is also a medical emergency that occurs when your blood does not get enough oxygen, has too much carbon dioxide, or a combination of both.

Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is a tool that has been used by doctors for decades to provide cardiac and/or respiratory support oxygen to patients whose heart and/or lungs are failing. But physicians at the Cardiovascular Institute have conducted extensive research and trained for years to advance the application of ECMO for patients in cardiogenic shock or with profound respiratory failure.

This device is sometimes used to temporarily take over your heart’s job. It involves removing blood from your body and passing it through the ECMO machine where carbon dioxide is removed and oxygen is added. The newly oxygenated blood is then returned to your body. This treatment is used to allow your heart to recover, give doctors time to treat your underlying disease, or while you wait for a donor heart to become available.

Established in 1986, Allegheny General Hospital has become one of the preeminent ECMO facilities in the region and country. Our program highlights include:

  • Our survival rate for patients with the virus H1N1 is well above the national average.
  • We have dramatically improved survival rates for patients with cardiogenic shock, whereas in the past, almost no patient survived the condition.
  • Our ECMO specialists are available to accept patients 24/7, and all of our patients receive around-the-clock medical attention by a team of specialized ECMO critical care nurses and physicians.
  • We have a multidisciplinary team from cardiac surgery, cardiology, critical care and perfusion to ensure all-encompassing care for every patient.

Congenital heart disease in adults

Coronary artery disease

Heart failure

Heart valve disease

Robotic minimally invasive surgery

Find out more about this specialty at a location near you.



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