Heart Surgery

For many people with sudden or hard-to-treat cardiovascular problems, heart surgery offers the best chance of recovery—and a second chance at life.

If you need heart surgery, you shouldn’t trust your heart to just anyone. Make sure you choose a health care team that has lots of experience performing cardiac procedures and offers the care and support you’ll need after surgery.

University of Iowa Heart and Vascular Center cardiothoracic surgeons perform more planned and emergency heart surgeries than any other providers in the state.

We also offer advanced procedures that aren’t widely available. These include:

Iowa's most complete heart surgery program

When you choose the UI Heart and Vascular Center, you won’t undergo a one-size-fits-all procedure. Because we offer every type of heart surgery, we can select the option that best meets your medical needs, risk factors, and goals.

Our areas of expertise include:

  • Open heart surgery: Even though open heart surgery is considered major surgery, it’s often the best option for younger, healthy patients. That’s because certain procedures, including structural repairs and valve replacements, offer better long-term durability when performed using traditional, open techniques.
  • Transcatheter heart procedures: These procedures, also known as transcatheter or percutaneous procedures, offer a safe alternative in cases where open heart surgery is too risky. Instead of opening your chest, we reach your heart by guiding flexible devices (catheters) through your blood vessels.
  • Minimally invasive heart surgery: Not every heart surgery has a transcatheter alternative. But many surgical treatments can still be performed using less invasive techniques and smaller skin incisions. These procedures include minimally invasive valve surgery and robotic-assisted coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG). They offer the durability of open heart surgery and may also help you recover more quickly.

Leaders in heart surgery research

Our heart surgeons are also researchers, helping to develop, test, and refine new techniques that make heart surgery safer and more effective.

Members of our team took part in the landmark PARTNER clinical trials, which helped confirm the safety and efficacy of TAVR. They also helped lead research studies that led to the approval of robotic-assisted CABG.

We were also the first in Iowa to enroll in the international CLASP trial to test transcatheter tricuspid valve repair. This treatment benefits patients with tricuspid valve regurgitation for whom surgery is too risky.

Because we take part in research studies like these, our patients are often among the first to have promising new surgical treatments.

Enhancing your heart surgery recovery

We offer all the services you might need to make a full recovery. These include:

  • Cardiovascular intensive care: Our cardiovascular intensive care unit is reserved for patients recovering from heart surgery or a serious heart condition. It’s staffed by doctors, nurses, and other providers with advanced training in cardiac critical care.
  • Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO): ECMO is a type of life support that can help your heart rest and recover after major surgery. We’re among a handful of health systems worldwide to be named an ECMO Gold Level Center of Excellence. This is the highest standard in critical care, and we’re the only program in Iowa with this distinction.
  • Cardiac rehabilitation: We offer a tailored exercise and education program designed to strengthen your heart after surgery and help you function better at home or work. You’ll have access to aerobic and strength training exercises, smoking cessation classes, and consultations with our registered dietitians.
  • Advanced specialty care: If you need any extra cardiovascular care after heart surgery, UI Heart and Vascular Center can provide it. We offer the full range of heart and vascular services, including cardiac imaging and remote monitoring for patients who have a pacemaker or are living with heart failure.

Heart surgery conditions treated:

Top cardiac surgery program in U.S.

Our cardiac surgery program is recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the best places in the country for patient care. Only the top 4% of hospitals in the nation received this rating based on patient survival, length of stay, number of patients seen, and more for aortic valve surgery and heart bypass surgery.

Need a heart surgeon?

Has your doctor referred you for a heart surgery consultation? If so, we’ll help you find a heart surgeon who can recommend the right procedure for your symptoms or condition.

Care Team