What is a Cardiothoracic Surgeon
Cardiothoracic surgeons will graduate from medical school and go on to complete either a 5-year general surgery residency followed by a 2- or 3-year cardiothoracic surgery residency program, or enter into a 6-year integrated cardiothoracic surgery residency.
Some cardiothoracic surgeons choose to do additional training in a subspecialized area but this training is optional with the exception of congenital heart surgery, which requires completion of a 1-year fellowship.
Learn more about cardiothoracic surgeons from Vinod Thourani, MD, Douglas E. Wood, MD, Lauren C. Kane, MD, and Robert S.D. Higgins, MD, MSHA.
How a Thoracic Surgeon differs from a Cardiologist or Pulmonologist
A cardiologist will primarily diagnose disorders of the heart and treat them with medication. Cardiologists also perform interventions on the arteries in the heart working through puncture wounds in the groin, but they do not perform open surgery.
A pulmonologist will diagnose disorders of the lung and treat them with medication. Some pulmonologists will perform interventions through the airway but do not perform open surgery.
Role on the Healthcare Team
All cardiothoracic surgeons have the same general training and are certified by the same specialty board, except for congenital heart surgeons who have a sub-specialty certificate in addition to the American Board of Thoracic Surgery (ABTS) certification.
Cardiothoracic Surgeons play an important role on the healthcare team. Watch Todd K. Rosengart, MD, Ram Kumar Subramanyan, MD, PhD, Leah M. Backus, MD, Jeffrey B. Rich, MD, Robbin G. Cohen, MD, MMM, and Jeffrey P. Jacobs, MD describe what cardiothoracic surgeons do, the team approach to surgical care, and how they make a difference for their patients.