Harvard Heart Letter

Hybrid heart surgery expands options

Collaborative approach aims to improve cardiac care.

Heart problems tend to come in clumps. Arteries clog. Valves don't open or close all the way. The heart's rhythm becomes irregular. Many people face not one but two or more treatment decisions.

Just a few years ago, someone who required multiple cardiac procedures might have had separate procedures done by specialists working in different parts of a hospital. In a catheter lab, a cardiologist would insert a stent to reopen an artery. Later, in an operating room, a cardiac surgeon would fix or replace a faulty valve. Hours might pass in between, involving transport from a sterile environment to an unsterile one and back again. In some cases, the two procedures might even require separate hospital visits.

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