What Types of Heart Surgeries Are There?

Minimally invasive heart surgery and bypass surgery are common heart procedures for treating obstructions in cardiac arteries, according to the American Heart Association. Another surgery involves repairing or replacing a weak heart valve with an artificial device, and serious cases of heart failure may require a transplant to surgically implant a donor organ. Transmyocardial revascularization, or TMR, is a laser-based heart surgery used to relieve the type of chest pain known as angina.

Bypass grafting to restore healthy blood flow through the coronary arteries is the most common heart surgery, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute states. When hardened plaque causes severe blockages in coronary arteries, surgeons use healthy arteries, or grafts, to reroute blood flow around one or more obstructions. For example, the surgeon may remove a vein from the leg and stitch it to the aorta and a coronary artery to create a new pathway to the heart muscle.

Similarly to a bypass, minimally invasive surgery involves grafting, but doctors make small chest incisions to insert surgical instruments and use monitors to view and direct the procedure, the American Heart Association states. Depending on the patient, surgeons may temporarily stop the heart and use a heart-lung machine to perform organ functions.

In heart valve surgery, surgeons insert a catheter with a balloon tip into a chest incision and use it to inflate a narrowed valve or position a replacement device, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute notes. In TMR surgery, doctors use lasers to create channels in the heart muscle and ventricles, encouraging the growth of new blood vessels.