Cardiac Surgery

With over four decades of cardiac surgery, you can trust Saint Vincent Hospital for expert cardiac surgery. We’re committed to providing you with a full continuum of care that can give you the best possible surgical outcomes.

Surgical Procedures

Since performing the first Worcester-area open-heart surgery in 1959, Saint Vincent Hospital has offered advanced heart procedures for various conditions. At Saint Vincent Hospital, we provide different types of heart surgery which may include:

  • Aneurysm repair: Repairing a bulge in an artery or heart wall by replacing a weak section of an artery or heart wall with a patch or graft 
  • Aortic valve replacement: Surgery in which an incision is made in the aorta and the valve is removed and replaced with a tissue or mechanical valve. This procedure is often used to treat conditions like aortic stenosis or aortic regurgitation. We also offer the innovative transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) procedure for high-risk patients.
  • Atrial fibrillation surgery/Maze procedure: Usually performed alongside another heart surgery, the Maze procedure is designed to form scar tissue that disrupts abnormal electrical impulses in the heart and restores a normal heartbeat.
  • Cardiac angioplasty: A cardiac stent procedure that uses a stent to a narrowed or blocked artery to hold it open.
  • Cardiomyoplasty: A procedure that involves taking skeletal muscles from a patient’s back or abdomen and using these muscles to wrap the heart. These skeletal muscles function like a pacemaker that boosts the heart’s pumping motion.
  • Coronary artery bypass grafting: This procedure is designed to sew bypass grafts into the coronary arteries beyond blockage, improving blood flow and relieving symptoms of chest pain.
  • Heart transplant: This cardiac surgery involves replacing a diseased or damaged heart with a donated healthy heart.
  • Heart valve repair or replacement: The cardiovascular surgeon repairs the heart valve or replaces it with an artificial or biological valve from a pig, cow or human heart tissue. One way of heart repair is inserting a catheter with a balloon on one end. The balloon is inflated to widen the narrowed valve.
  • Insertion of a pacemaker or implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD): A procedure to treat arrhythmia when medications do not work. The surgeon implants a pacemaker under the skin of the chest or abdomen, and the wires connected to the heart chambers. A sensor signals the pacemaker, using electrical pulses to control the heart rhythm if the heartbeat is abnormal. An ICD works the same as a pacemaker; however, ICDs send electric shocks to restore the normal heart rhythm when a dangerous arrhythmia is detected.
  • Insertion of a ventricular assist device (VAD) or total artificial heart (TAH): A VAD is used to support heart function and blood flow by acting as a mechanical pump. An entire artificial heart is used to replace the two lower chambers of the heart
  • Mitral valve surgery: Surgery to repair or replace your heart's mitral valve, ensuring that blood keeps flowing through the heart. Click here to learn more about Mitral Valve Surgery & the MitraClip.
  • Radiofrequency ablation: This procedure involves placing a catheter where cells give signals stimulating the abnormal heart rhythm. Painless radiofrequency energy is then transmitted that carefully destroys a small area of heart muscles.
  • Transmyocardial revascularization (TMR): This cardiac surgery involves an incision on the left breast to expose the heart. A laser is then used to drill several holes outside the heart to the heart’s pumping chamber. Sometimes, this procedure is performed with cardiac bypass surgery to relieve severe chest pain.
  • Other cardiac procedures: Other cardiac procedures offered at Saint Vincent Hospital include other valve and surgical procedure.

Difference Between Open-Heart Surgery and Bypass Surgery

Open-Heart Surgery

Open-heart surgery is any heart surgery that involves cutting the chest open and operating on the muscles, valves or arteries. This type of surgery is used to:

  • Heart repair or replacement
  • Repair damaged or abnormal areas of the heart
  • Implant medical devices
  • Replace a damaged or diseased heart

There are different types of open-heart surgery procedures:

  • On-pump surgery
  • Beating heart or off-pump surgery
  • Robot-assisted surgery

Heart Bypass Surgery

Cardiac bypass surgery is open-heart surgery performed to improve blood flow in the heart. The surgeon uses blood vessels from another area of the body and redirects them to supply blood past the blocked artery or vein.


There are different types of heart bypass surgeries according to how many blocked arteries there are:

  • Single bypass open-heart surgery – when one artery is blocked
  • Double bypass open-heart surgery – when two arteries are blocked
  • Triple bypass open-heart surgery – when three arteries are blocked
  • Quadruple bypass open-heart surgery – when four arteries are blocked

More blocked arteries also mean that the open-heart surgery may take longer or become more complex. The risk of having a heart attack, heart failure and other cardiac issues is also higher if more arteries are blocked.

How Serious Is Heart Surgery?

Heart surgeries are generally significant surgeries. And although often successful, surgeries entail risks. Complications from cardiac surgery include:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Reaction to anesthesia
  • Damage to heart, kidneys, liver and lung tissues
  • Stroke
  • Death (especially for those who have severe cases before surgery)

The risk of having complications heightens when a patient has other conditions or diseases, such as diabetes, peripheral artery disease or kidney or lung disease. 

How to Prepare for Your Heart Surgery

The preparation for surgery varies on the type of surgery you will have. There are also planned surgeries and emergency surgeries.

For planned surgery, your cardiology team in Worcester, MA, will meet with you to explain how to prepare, what to expect and how to recover afterward. Your cardiologist may also request diagnostic tests such as blood and heart tests to learn more about your current condition and general health. You may be advised to avoid certain foods, refrain from taking certain medications and suggest lifestyle changes to minimize potential risks. On the day of surgery, you may be asked to come a few minutes or hours earlier than your schedule to fill out documents or address your questions.

Heart Surgery Recovery

Heart surgery recovery time depends on the type of heart surgery you underwent, the condition before you underwent and if there were complications from your heart surgery. Most heart surgeries require you to stay in the intensive care unit for at least a day. Then, you will be moved to a different part of the hospital for several days until discharge. For example, the recovery from traditional open-heart bypass surgery may take at least 6-12 weeks in total.

Cardiac Surgery at Saint Vincent Hospital

At Saint Vincent Hospital, we have a team of cardiovascular experts across Worcester, MA, including experienced cardiovascular surgeons, anesthesiologists, cardiac nurses, nurse practitioners and technicians. We offer flexible payment plans for most treatments and procedures if you’re delaying your heart care because you’re worried about the cost. Your health shouldn’t have to wait, yet we understand that sometimes healthcare costs can burden a family’s budget causing patients to put off procedures. Learn more about our Payment Plan Agreements here.

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