Cardiology & Cardiothoracic Surgery
Westmead Private Hospital has a dedicated cardiovascular unit for patients that will be undergoing cardiac services and/or cardiothoracic surgery.
Our 23-bed cardiovascular unit is supported by a full range of on-site services including two cardiac catheter laboratories (cath lab), dedicated operating suites, a 14 bed intensive care unit. Our two state-of-the-art cardiac catheter suites, feature the most sophisticated, automated digital medical imaging equipment and can perform the very latest tests and procedures in the diagnosis and treatment of heart disease.
We have a group of highly experienced health professionals including cardiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons, nurses and physiotherapists who work seamlessly to provide the highest level of care to our patients.
Our Cardiovascular Unit is staffed by specialist nurses who care for patient’s pre and post cath lab procedures and we provide medical management for conditions including chest pain, heart failure, and arrhythmias. Patients and their visitors are well supported and have education provided regarding their condition and management.
Interventional Cardiology Procedures in the Cath Lab
Some of the common conditions and treatments regularly performed by Westmead Private Specialists include:
An angiogram is a special type of X-Ray using dye to show if there is narrowing of the coronary arteries. Access is via the femoral artery (groin) or radial artery (wrist)
Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), commonly known as coronary angioplasty or simply angioplasty, is a non-surgical procedure used to treat the stenotic (narrowed) coronary arteries of the heart found in coronary heart disease. Treatment involves the use of balloons and stents to open the narrowing and hold it open.
This procedure is done to measure pressures in the right side of the heart and lungs, determine your cardiac output and measure oxygen levels in and around your heart.
These procedures are done to repair structural problems such as septal defects, where there is a hole between the left and right side of the heart. The hole is usually ‘plugged’ using a metallic device which is delivered via the femoral vein.
A special catheter is inserted into a vein, usually in your groin. The catheter is then positioned in your right ventricle. Under x-ray guidance, your doctor uses the biopsy catheter to take tissue samples, usually from your right ventricle. The tiny pieces of heart tissue are sent to the lab for examination under a microscope and a biopsy may be done to: biopsy may be done to Diagnose the cause of heart failure or heart disease, such as dilated cardiomyopathy. This is caused by a bacterial or viral infection. The procedure can also diagnose restrictive cardiomyopathy, caused by many different pathological processes. Knowing the cause of heart failure can help to determine the treatment plan.
An electrophysiological study is used to diagnose and treat cardiac rhythm disturbances. Using special pacing wires, the doctor can identify your rhythm disturbance and choose the best method of treatment.
Radiofrequency ablation is a procedure to cure rapid heart rhythms (tachycardia) in the heart. Abnormal electrical pathways in the heart (short circuits) are usually the cause.
This procedure is very similar to an electrophysiological study (EPS), which is performed beforehand.
Electrical cardioversion is a procedure in which an electric current is used to reset the heart's rhythm back to its regular pattern. The low-voltage electric current enters the body through paddles or patches applied to the chest wall.
A TOE is a procedure that looks at the heart chambers and valves using ultrasound. The probe is passed through the mouth and into the oesophagus. This is always done under anaesthetic or heavy sedation.
This is a small cardiac monitoring system which helps your doctor diagnose irregular heartbeats that may be related to unexplained fainting. It is placed under the skin above the heart and can stay there for up to 3 years.
A pacemaker is implanted to treat an abnormally slow heart rate. Pacemakers can also adjust the heart rate to meet the body's needs, whether during exercise or rest. Implantation of a pacemaker involves positioning leads (thin, insulated wires) in the heart and placing the device in a pocket of skin, usually in the shoulder area.
An ICD is a battery-powered device placed under the skin that keeps track of your heart rate. Thin wires connect the ICD to your heart. If an abnormal heart rhythm is detected the device will deliver an electric shock to restore a normal heartbeat if your heart is beating chaotically and much too fast.
Highly trained nurses, cardiovascular technologists and radiographers are available 24 hours a day to assist the cardiologist with any cardiac emergency 7 days a week.
For the profiles and contact details of our cardiology specialists please see the links below:
Westmead Private Hospital can offer you the latest techniques in the surgical treatment of heart and lung conditions. Our multidisciplinary team of highly experienced cardiothoracic surgeons, perfusionists, cardiac nurses and allied health professionals work together to provide the highest quality clinical treatment and care to every patient.
Cardiothoracic (heart, chest & lung) Procedures
Some of the common surgeries performed at Westmead Private Hospital include:
This procedure is to bypass (skip) blockages within your coronary arteries. These arteries supply blood to your entire heart. These blockages which contain calcium & plaque are what cause your symptoms of chest pain & discomfort, fatigue & shortness of breath.
Through a midline incision on your chest & opening of the breastbone (sternum) the heart can be reached. Commonly, vein from your leg & an artery from just behind your sternum (breastbone) are used to replace these blocked arteries therefore “bypassing” these blockages. This therefore improves the blood flow to the heart muscle which in turn decreases your symptoms of chest pain breathlessness &, or fatigue. Occasionally an artery from your arm may also be used for these “bypasses”.
The aorta is a major blood vessel responsible for distributing oxygenated blood to your entire body. Within the aorta is a valve which prevents blood going back towards the heart. It is made up of either 2 or 3 “leaflets” which are very thin which are responsible for coming together & forming a seal to prevent this backflow. This valve can degenerate with time & leak, & / or form calcium deposits on the leaflets. This therefore stops the valve from opening & closing properly to allow blood to flow through.
Through a midline incision on your chest & opening of the breastbone (sternum) the aortic valve can be reached & either pushed open permanently or cut out, & an artificial valve sewn in.
The valve can either be mechanical (synthetic) or tissue (human or animal). If a mechanical valve is used you will be required to take blood thinners for the rest of your life. If a tissue valve is used it will need replacing in time, anytime from 8 years onwards.
In most cases, mitral valve surgery is an open heart procedure. This means that the surgeon will open your chest (breastbone) & then your heart & remove or repair the damaged valve. If your mitral valve is damaged or diseased this will prevent how blood flows through it. Sometimes the valve cannot fully open or it can leak. Your surgeon therefore will need to either repair the valve or replace it. Many factors need to be considered to make the decision to either repair or replace your valve.
If your valve is replaced it will be with either a mechanical valve (synthetic) or tissue valve (sourced from an animal). If a mechanical valve is used you will be required to take blood thinners for the rest of your life. If a tissue valve is used it will need replacing in time, anytime from 8 years onwards.
Commonly known as a ‘hole in the heart’, an atrial septal defect is a hole between the two upper chambers of your heart. Formed in utero & therefore present from birth, they can go unnoticed or undetected for many years.
Open heart surgery may be required to close this hole. This means that the surgeon will open your chest (breastbone) & then your heart & close the hole either directly or use a ‘patch’ sewn to the wall of these two upper chambers.
The aorta is a major blood vessel responsible for distributing oxygenated blood to your entire body. An aortic aneurysm is a bulging or enlargement of the aorta which can occur anywhere along this large artery. The appearance of an aneurysm can be very different with ballooning or bulging out to one side or quite uniform. Occasionally aneurysms form a ‘sac’ in a weakened area of the aorta.
To repair this aneurysm, open heart surgery is required. This means that the surgeon will open your chest (breastbone) in order to access the aorta. The section of aorta that is damaged by the aneurysm will need to be replaced with a ‘graft’ which is synthetic & tubular & made of a strong woven fabric.
A thoracotomy is an incision to access your chest cavity usually to access specifically one of your lungs. This incision however can also be used for other procedures to access your aorta. The incision is made along the side of your chest wall & can vary greatly in length from approximately 6cm up to about 20cm.
Lung surgery is usually to remove a section or portion of your lung or the entire lung itself. Generally described as a wedge, lobe or lung.
Depending on your clinical condition will determine how much lung is removed & why. Surgical techniques have greatly improved making lung surgery easier to access & recover from.
A Nuss procedure is offered to younger patients who have either a sunken appearance of their chest or a bulging out of their chest (breastbone). This is a cartilage abnormality which is present from birth & can also lead to breathing & / or exercise intolerance as the patient ages from childhood.
A Nuss bar (named after the surgeon who invented the procedure) is inserted from a small incision on the side of the chest & advanced across the breastbone area. It is bent into a preformed & measured shape which stays inside the body for up to 3 years. It is then surgically removed with the cartilage reshaping during this time & correcting the appearance of the breastbone. Up to 3 small incisions may be made for this procedure which give excellent corrective results.
A Ravitch sternochrondoplasty procedure is offered to older (adult) patients who have either a sunken appearance of their chest or a bulging out of their chest (breastbone). This is a cartilage abnormality which is present from birth & can also lead to breathing & / or exercise intolerance as the patient ages. An incision is made across the front of the chest below the nipple line & the effected cartilage is cut out on both sides of the sternum (breastbone). A thin metal plate if required may be used to maintain the desired shape & appearance of the chest. Alternatively & more commonly the muscle is sewn directly to the remaining cartilage which will maintain the now flatter appearance of the chest.
All our specialists’ work closely with our on-site nursing team, physiotherapy team, dietician and discharge planner to ensure you have a seamless experience from the point of admission to being discharge from our facility.
For the profiles and contact details of our cardiovascular specialists please see the links below: