Understanding heart surgery

Understanding heart surgery.

In recent years, new medications, a greater focus on nutrition, and a variety of tools to inspire healthier living have helped millions of people reduce their risk of heart attack and improve their overall heart health. But even with advancements and greater awareness, heart surgery remains a frequent necessity for a variety of conditions — including blocked arteries, a damaged aortic valve and irregular heartbeat.

Heart surgery itself takes many forms beyond the common perception of “open-heart.” And advancements in technology and procedures have helped to improve outcomes and speed recoveries. St. Clair Hospital is a leader in western Pennsylvania in heart surgery outcomes, providing the full spectrum of procedures to help patients get back to living their lives.

“Realizing that you need heart surgery can be very scary,” said Dr. Muhammed Salman, Cardiothoracic Surgeon, St. Clair Hospital. “We have a dedicated Cardiac Team at St. Clair that performs a full spectrum of cardiac procedures, including very complex ones, routinely and successfully with very good outcomes. We treat our patients as we would want our families to be treated.”

Angioplasty & Stenting

These minimally invasive procedures, used to open blockages in the heart’s arteries, are performed in the U.S. over 965,000 times each year. Using a catheter inserted in the groin, arm or wrist area, doctors can view the blockage and inflate a tiny balloon to stretch the artery open (angioplasty). Often, the doctor will insert a small, wire mesh tube (stent) to keep the artery from closing. The procedure usually requires an overnight stay in the hospital, and patients are generally back to normal activities in a week.

Coronary Bypass Grafts

If angioplasty and stenting are unsuccessful or cannot be performed because of several blocked arteries or a blockage in the main coronary artery, coronary bypass grafts may be necessary. This open-heart procedure takes a section of healthy blood vessel from the chest wall or lower leg and uses it to redirect blood flow around the blockage. After surgery, patients generally remain in the hospital for about a week and experience a recovery period of 6 to 12 weeks, including cardiac rehab.

Aortic Valve Repair/Replacement

Each year, more than 182,000 aortic valve procedures are performed in the United States. A damaged aortic valve can interfere with blood flow and force the heart to work harder. If the damage is severe enough, the valve can be replaced with either a mechanical or biological tissue valve from a cow, pig or human donor. Most valve procedures are performed using open-heart surgery, but these have been declining in number with the increased adoption of Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR). This minimally invasive procedure uses a catheter inserted through a blood vessel in the leg or a small incision in the chest to replace the aortic valve with a biological valve. Recovery time is substantially shorter than for open-heart valve replacement.

Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR)

Cardiac Electrophysiology

Cardia arrhythmia occurs when a normal heart rate is disrupted by electrical “misfires” that cause the heart to beat too fast, too slow or in an irregular pattern. Cardiac electrophysiology is a diagnostic and therapeutic procedure to treat atrial fibrillation (the most common type of heart arrhythmia), as well as rapid heartbeat and other electrical disorders of the heart. One of the most modern advancements to correct arrhythmia is coronary ablation. In this minimally invasive procedure, catheterization is used to identify the source of the abnormal heart rhythm. A controlled scar is then created that acts as an impediment to the erratic signals.

At St. Clair Hospital, our renowned surgeons and physicians utilize the most modern tools and techniques to diagnose and treat heart disease, all while providing the most personalized care and attention. To learn more about our surgeons and physicians, our services and our approach to heart care, visit stclair.org/ cardiac-surgery or call 412.942.4000


Cardiothoracic Surgeon
St. Clair Hospital

Dr. Salman specializes in cardiothoracic surgery. He earned his medical degree at Ross University School of Medicine and completed his residency at York Hospital. Dr. Salman also completed fellowships at Allegheny General Hospital and Cleveland Clinic Foundation. He is board-certified in thoracic surgery. Dr. Salman practices with St. Clair Medical Services.

To contact Dr. Salman, please call 412.942.5728.