Understanding the Role of  Surgery

Vascular surgery, also called cardiopulmonary surgery, is a specialized surgical specialty in which certain diseases of the circulatory system, or extremities, arteries, veins, and lymphatic flow, are treated by specialized medical treatment, usually minimally invasive, catheterized procedures, and reconstructive surgery. In the past, the majority of cardiovascular and invasive procedures were performed with open-heart surgery. This type of procedure involved opening the heart so that the patient could be treated for the disease. Today, many procedures are done using a laparoscope, a thin flexible tube with a light inside at the bottom. This type of procedure allows doctors to make a small incision and treat the disease from the outside. Although this newer technology provides a less invasive and more successful treatment, it does not always correct the condition completely. Learn more about surgery.

Most patients who have invasive disease of the cardiovascular system or the arteries require major procedures such as coronary artery bypass surgery, angioplasty, balloon angioplasty, pericardial repair surgery, stent placement, or brachioplasty. These types of surgery can correct or alleviate cardiovascular conditions that affect the nerves, capillaries, muscles, blood vessels, and even the brain; some of which cannot be corrected by any other method. Some of these cardiovascular conditions include congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, myocardial infarction, peripheral arterial disease, peripheral vascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, or diabetic neuropathy.

For patients with non-cardiovascular conditions, invasive procedures are used less often, although invasive procedures may still be required for some diseases. The most common surgery a doctor performs on patients who need cardiopulmonary rehabilitation, is a procedure called a carotid artery bypass. Patients who have suffered a cardiac event such as a heart attack, a heart defect, or left untreated hypertension can benefit from this procedure, as it can open up the arteries that supply oxygen-rich blood to the brain. By opening up the aorta, doctors can help restore breathing and normal functioning.