Cardiac Surgery

Cardiac Surgery at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute is dedicated to life-saving procedures and advancing surgical techniques and treatment methods. Our surgeons specialize in reconstructing damaged portions of the heart and solving complex problems using minimally invasive procedures.

 

We have one of the most successful heart-valve surgery programs in Canada. Our heart transplant program has performed more than 500 transplants and serves patients across the country. We pioneer innovative surgical methods, such as minimally invasive coronary artery bypass, and educate surgeons here and abroad in these new techniques. 

We perform more than 1,500 open-heart procedures annually and conduct research into progressive clinical practices and scientific approaches to ensure the best possible outcomes for our patients. Cardiac surgery has a proud legacy at the Heart Institute. Our physicians continue to set the standard in care, education, and research.

Programs & Units 

The Heart Institute is a national leader in cardiac surgery. We have among the lowest mortality rates and largest patient volumes throughout North America, particularly for high-risk patients. Our Cardiac Surgery program provides a model of surgical performance and expertise in which patient diagnosis, assessment, treatment, and follow-up involve a concerted team approach.

Clinical Specialties

Minimally Invasive Coronary Artery Bypass

Through a tiny incision between the ribs, multiple healthy blood vessels are grafted onto arteries to bypass coronary blockages. The operation is conducted while the heart is beating. The standard open-heart method involves stopping the heart, using a heart-lung machine, and breaking the breastbone to open the chest. Only a few sites in North America perform this procedure, which requires specialized tools and training.

Valve Repair

We specialize in heart valve surgical techniques--for reconstruction of valves instead of replacement--including mitral valve repair. Surgeons also perform complex aortic valve procedures using minimally invasive surgical techniques. The comprehensive Valve Surgery Clinic follows patients after surgery to ensure thorough follow-up care.

Trans-catheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI)

For patients suffering from aortic stenosis (narrowing of the aortic valve) who are not good candidates for surgery, TAVI offers a minimally invasive option. Our medical team combines the exceptional skills of a surgeon and an interventional cardiologist in performing this catheter-based procedure. This technique currently best suits the higher-risk surgical population.

Heart Transplant

The Heart Institute’s first transplant was performed in 1984, and as many as 30 transplants are conducted here annually. Transplant patients are seen in the Heart Function Clinic when their hearts are no longer strong enough to pump adequate volumes of blood. The Heart Institute helps set the standard for transplant procedures and protocols across the country as a leading member of the Canadian Cardiac Transplant Group. In 2012, the Institute performed its 500th heart transplant.

Ventricular Assist Devices

Left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) temporarily replace the heart’s pumping action and are surgically implanted for patients with end-stage heart failure who are waiting for a heart transplant (known as "bridge to transplantation"). The device takes blood from the left side of the heart and pumps it back to the aorta, the major vessel in the body. An LVAD is used until a donor heart is available for transplantation or in patients who are expected to improve (known as "bridge to recovery").

Thoracoscopic Surgical Ablation

In this procedure, surgeons manoeuvre miniature tools through a keyhole-sized incision to destroy, or ablate, a targeted area of the heart. The ablation effectively short-circuits troublesome nerve endings responsible for atrial fibrillation, the most common form of arrhythmia.

Pulmonary Thromboendarterectomy

In some patients, blood clots that travel to their lungs do not dissolve as they should and block the flow of blood. Blood pressure remains high, causing a persistent strain on the right side of the heart. The result is a condition known as chronic pulmonary embolism or chronic pulmonary hypertension. The Heart Institute is the designated Canadian centre for pulmonary thromboendarterectomy (PTE), a complex surgical procedure in which blood clots that block pulmonary arteries are removed.

Thoracic Aortic Repair

Like an inflated balloon, the wall of the aorta becomes thin and can tear (dissect) or rupture when it is stretched by an aneurysm. Aortic dissection or rupture requires immediate surgical repair. Patients with aortic disease are managed in the Aortic Clinic.

Research 

Surgeons and scientists at the Heart Institute combine their experience and skill to improve the quality of life of our patients, ensure better outcomes, and maintain a progressive approach to cardiovascular medicine. From its inception, the Heart Institute has pioneered novel surgical procedures that give patients a chance to lead better lives.

For more information, see:

Research Clusters

Research Teams​

Education 

Our diverse skills, collaborative setting, and innovative procedures provide an excellent environment for training young physicians and researchers. Our educational activities address students at all levels.

Undergraduate
Up to 15 medical students rotate annually through our cardiac surgery program, including elective students from the faculties of medicine in other provinces.

Residency
Cardiac surgery as accredited by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada for medical residents requires a minimum of six years, following the completion of medical school.

Fellowship
Clinical fellows are enrolled in one of the most advanced and diverse surgical training sites in Canada.

Graduate Education
Training at the Heart Institute incorporates laboratory research in which young scientists investigate the means of rebuilding tissue in and around the heart. Master’s and PhD candidates in cellular and molecular medicine are supervised in groundbreaking basic research.

For more information, please see Cardiac Surgery Education.

Team 

Marc Ruel, MD, MPH, FRCSC, FCCP
Division Head, Cardiac Surgery

Surgeons

Surgical Assistants

Scientists

Research Coordinators

  • Jacqueline Fortier
  • Gifferd Ko

Executive Assistant

Beth Wallace
613-761-4893

 

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