Cardiothoracic Surgeon

Cardiothoracic Surgeon


A Cardiothoracic Surgeon is a medical doctor who specializes in surgical procedures for the heart, esophagus, lungs, and other chest organs. Cardiothoracic surgery is a recently introduced procedure that advances the medical world with new technologies. A cardiothoracic surgeon or general thoracic surgeon deals with the disease in the chest. They treat patients by performing surgeries on the lungs, trachea, heart, and its connected major blood vessels. 

Types of Cardiothoracic Surgeons

Cardiothoracic surgeons include cardiac surgeons, congenital heart surgeons, and cardiovascular surgeons. 

  • A cardiac surgeon is a medical doctor having advanced education and heart surgery training.
  • A cardiovascular surgeon can operate on your blood vessels and repair damage caused by disease or cardiovascular system disorder.
  • A congenital heart surgeon provided exceptional care and treatment to fix congenital (existing at birth) and child-acquired heart problems. These surgeons treat complex congenital heart defects in newborns, teenagers, and adults.

Education required being a Cardiothoracic Surgeon

To become a cardiothoracic surgeon, you must complete your bachelor’s degree in chemistry and biology. After passing your MCAT exam, you must give four years to medical school and five to seven years to general surgical residency. After completing surgical residency, you have to spend two to three years more in cardiothoracic surgery. The cardiothoracic surgery fellowship certificate depends on the number of surgeries you have performed in these years instead of the time interval you spent in the program. It is optional for this type of  surgeon to do additional training in a sub-specialized area. Still, congenital heart surgery is compulsory for them, which requires at least one year of fellowship. The total time and training needed to be a cardiothoracic surgeon is at least 15 years of their life. If you are doing a particular heart surgery specialty, it takes almost 20 years for completion.

Disease treated by Cardiothoracic Surgeon

These surgoens will treat the disease develops in the chest organs, the bony structure, and tissues inside the chest cavity. Among which, a cardiac or cardiovascular surgeon can treat the following diseases:

  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Blockage in the heart valves
  • Leakage in the heart valves
  • Aneurysms of large arteries in the chest 
  • Abdominal enlargement
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Blocked arteries in the heart
  • Heart failure

These surgeons can treat the following disease

  • Hypoplastic left or right heart syndrome
  • Atrial septal defects
  • Central sepal defects
  • Coarctation of the aorta
  • Transposition of the great arteries

A general thoracic surgeon can treat the following disease

  • Swallowing disorders such as achalasia
  • Hiatal hernias
  • Lung cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Emphysema
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease

Procedures and Surgeries performed by Cardiothoracic Surgeon

Cardiothoracic surgeons are also experts in performing various kinds of procedures and surgeries. Some of them include:

  • Repair and replacement of heart valve
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy surgery
  • Heart transplant
  • Heart enlargement surgery
  • Maze procedure
  • Coronary artery bypass grafting(CABG)
  • Device implantation
  • Congenital heart surgeries

Skills required for Cardiothoracic Surgeon

Some of the following skills that cardiothoracic surgeon must possess:

  • Excellent communication skills with colleagues, patients, and families
  • Teamwork capacity to work with multidisciplinary teams
  • Emotional resilience: A cardiothoracic surgeon must be able to work under pressure.
  • Diagnostic skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Managerial Skills: The cardiothoracic surgeon must have first-class management skills regarding time and resources for the patient’s benefit.
  • Expert in his job
  • Have good physical stamina to cover the demands of surgery
  • Responsible for working place

Life of the Cardiothoracic Surgeon

Being a cardiothoracic surgeon means getting life-changing results from your work, but your role in this field is highly demanding. The diseases in a person’s chest are usually killers, and you have to manage life and death scenarios daily.

Before the surgery, the surgeon will have to meet the patients and their families to discuss and explain the surgery procedure. Understanding others’ emotions with a good heart is another success of a doctor’s role.

The main areas of cardiothoracic surgery are:

  • Thoracic surgery
  • Cardiac surgery
  • Lungs and heart transplant surgery
  • Congenital cardiac surgery

Caring for your patients during and even after surgery is an essential role of surgeon. Although cardiothoracic surgery is safe, cardiothoracic surgeons will always have to prepare to deal with complications such as stroke, arrhythmias, wound infection, postoperative bleeding, pleural effusion, or thrombosis during his surgery.

Moreover, a cardiothoracic surgeon must attend outpatient clinics, multidisciplinary team meetings, and ward rounds. 

Benefits of being a Cardiothoracic Surgeon

Though the job is challenging enough, but they enjoy the benefits of their job as well:

  • It is a flexible and part-time working job.
  • It gives you a high income even in the early years of your career.
  • You can work independently around the world.
  • You also get an excellent pension scheme after retirement.
  • You can get discounts in shops and restaurants.
  • You can have a good holiday entitlement.


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