Questions and Answers
Cardiothoracic, or thoracic, surgeons specialize in treat diseases of the chest including coronary artery disease; cancers of the lung, esophagus, and chest wall; abnormalities of the great vessels and heart valves; birth defects of the chest and heart; tumors in the organs contained in the chest cavity; and transplantation of the heart and lungs.
Heart disease is an umbrella term for any type of disorder that affects the heart. Heart disease means the same as cardiac disease but not cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease refers to disorders of the blood vessels and heart, while heart disease refers to just the heart.
Heart disease can often have no symptoms, which is why it is called a "silent" killer. But, there are some symptoms that can alert you to a possible problem. Chest or arm discomfort, especially while under stress or during activity, is a classic symptom of heart disease, and is a warning sign of a heart attack.
A Heart Attack occurs when the blood flow that brings oxygen to the heart muscle is severely reduced or stopped. This happens because coronary arteries that supply the heart with blood can slowly become thicker and harder from a buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances, called plaque. This slow process is known as atherosclerosis. If the plaque breaks open and a blood clot forms that blocks the blood flow, a heart attack occurs.
Learn about heart attack warning signs.
Lung disease refers to disorders that affect the lungs, the organs that allow us to breathe. Breathing problems caused by lung disease may prevent the body from getting enough oxygen. Examples of lung diseases are:
Early signs of lung disease are easy to overlook. Often, an early sign of lung disease is not having your usual level of energy.
The signs and symptoms can differ by the type of lung disease. Common signs are:
Some insurance carriers require a referral from your primary care doctor, cardiologist, pulmonologist or other specialist and some do not. To find out if you need a referral prior to scheduling an appointment, it is best to contact your healthcare provider. You may also contact our office at 817-465-5311.
Many patients are candidates for a minimally invasive or robotic surgery. Dr. Bradford evaluates each patient on a case-by-case basis. Your particular condition, medical history and anatomy are all important when deciding the best surgical approach for you. To learn if you are a candidate for minimally invasive surgery or not, please call our office at 817-465-5311.
Everybody needs some support after surgery. The amount of support will depend on how functional you were before your operation, how well you tolerated surgery and whether you have minimally invasive or open surgery. Initially, you will not be able to drive or lift heavy loads. Having someone to assist with shopping and some of your daily activities is usually all that is needed until you are driving again.
After surgery, a social worker is available to help you and your family meet any emotional and social needs. The social worker provides counseling and guidance in coping with stress and gives information about resources and insurance coverage.
If you need help with social needs before surgery, please call our office at 817-465-5311. Before coming to the hospital, it is important to discuss with your family and friends the need to have someone stay with you after your discharge from the hospital.
You will need help with activities of daily living, such as grocery shopping, preparing meals, transportation to medical appointments, etc.
Most patients experience some pain. We use a variety of medications that will keep you comfortable. In the hospital your nurse will regularly evaluate your discomfort and offer pain medications. Keeping you comfortable is very important so you can participate in walking, breathing and self-care activities necessary for recovery.
Many patients are able to leave the hospital in four to seven days after surgery. Our team will discuss your discharge plans with you postoperatively.
As with any surgery, there are certain risks that the patient should be aware of. The amount of risk will vary based on your general health status prior to the procedure. These risks can include, but are not limited to, bleeding, up to and including transfusion: infection; damage to major organs including the kidneys, which may require temporary or permanent dialysis; difficultly with breathing, requiring long-term ventilation; the risk for neurologic injury or stroke; the risk for heart attack, irregular heart rhythms, heart failure, or death. However, advances in how the surgery is performed and how patients are managed afterwards have led to a steady decline in complication rates.