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Billings Clinic cardiothoracic surgeons pioneered the first open-heart surgery in Montana in 1972, and now, over 40 years and over 10,000 surgeries later, we continue to offer the state's most comprehensive cardiac care throughout Montana and Northern Wyoming.
Whether you are having bypass surgery or mitral or aortic valve repair or replacement, with our state-of-the-art technology and a team approach to cardiac care, we work hard to provide you the highest quality, coordinated and compassionate care.
The Billings Clinic cardiac surgical team consists of board-certified cardiothoracic surgeons. Our surgical team is ready to handle your urgent needs, regardless of the time of the day or day of the week.
Article written by Zach Benoit, Billings GazetteRead Story
Billings Clinic has an outstanding cardiac surgery team. With the latest, innovative technology, our care team provides cardiac procedures of all kinds, including:
Learn more about our cardiac procedures and how they can affect your life and heart health.
TEVAR involves the use of a Thoracic Stent Graft to repair conditions such as aortic aneurysms or traumatic injury to the descending thoracic aorta. Historically these conditions have resulted in the need for major surgery which requires a several day stay in the hospital and many activity restrictions for patients as they recover from surgery.
The TEVAR procedure is completed in the Cardiac Catheterization Lab using a multi-disciplinary team of cardiologist, cardiac surgeons, anesthesia, cath lab, and OR personnel. During this procedure, a fabric graft supported by a metal framework is placed within the affected area of the aorta. The procedure takes approximately 1-3 hours to complete and patients stay in the hospital is approximately 2-3 days. Within 2 weeks of the procedure, patients should be back to their normal, active lifestyle with no restrictions.
The most common heart surgery procedures performed at Billings Clinic include coronary artery bypass grafting surgery and heart valve repair or replacement surgery.
Heart Surgery (coronary artery bypass grafting) is an operation in which the surgeon creates a bypass or detour around blockages within the coronary arteries. The bypass or detour restores normal blood flow to the heart. The surgeon uses the patients own blood vessels (arteries and veins) to create the bypass grafts. The most commonly used blood vessels are the internal mammary artery (which supplies blood to the inside of the chest) or saphenous veins (which return blood to the heart from the legs).
The goal of bypass surgery is to relieve symptoms of coronary artery disease, lower risk of a heart attack, and enable patients to resume a normal lifestyle.
As noted previously, the heart has 4 chambers. Blood is pumped through the chambers of the heart, aided by 4 heart valves. The perfect valve would be one which minimizes any obstruction and allows blood to flow freely in one direction through the heart. The four heart valves include:
Each valve has a set of flaps (also called leaflets or cusps). When working properly, the heart valves open and close fully and blood flows through the valve in a smooth and even manner. Heart valves dont always work as they should. There are several factors which can cause heart valves to work improperly. A person can be born with an abnormal heart valve (a congenital heart defect) or a valve can become damaged by infections, rheumatic fever, or changes in valve structure as a person ages. Diagnosis of valvular heart disease is made by a Cardiologist usually with an echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart).
There are two common conditions that can occur when a natural heart valve becomes defective or fails to fully open or close. These conditions can occur in just one valve or in more than one valve.
Generally, even though the initial damage to a valve may happen early in life, the early effects are mild and defect progresses slowly. When the stenosis or regurgitation rate attains a significant level, clinical problems may become noticeable and symptoms of heart failure are felt by the patient.
Valve Repair and Replacement Options
Diseased heart valves can be treated in several ways. These include 1) treatment with medication; 2) surgical repair; or 3) surgical replacement.
Heart valve repairs are generally completed using a ring to repair the valve.
If the surgeon chooses to replace a natural heart valve, the first step is to remove the diseased natural valve (excise the valve) and then implant a prosthetic heart valve in its place. Prosthetic valves used to replace the hearts diseased natural valves come in different sizes to fit the patient and are made from a variety of materials. If the surgeon chooses to replace the natural heart valve, there are two broad categories of heart valves that he will choose from.
Patients in the rural communities that require emergency heart care services can be flown in by Billings Clinic MedFlight, our medical transport service.
Billings Clinic MedFlight functions as a flying ICU, caring for patients needing critical care medical service and air transportation. Our flight team is the only flight team in Montana to perform patient transports for patients with an intra-aortic balloon pump.
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