About cardiothoracic surgeons
A cardiothoracic surgeon is a medical doctor with special training and skills in heart and lung surgery.
Cardiothoracic surgeons work with people who have heart or lung diseases or conditions. They operate on the heart, lungs, aorta and other organs in the chest.
Paediatric cardiothoracic surgeons specialise in operating on the hearts, lungs, aortas and chest organs of babies, children and teenagers.
If your child has health or development concerns, health professionals like cardiothoracic surgeons are there to care for your child and help you understand your child’s condition and treatment. With the support and expertise of these professionals, you can help your child thrive.
Why your child might see a cardiothoracic surgeon
Your child might see a cardiothoracic surgeon if they need minor or major heart or lung surgery.
Cardiothoracic surgeons are involved in many types of operations. These operations include fixing holes in the heart and blocked or leaking heart valves. They also include major reconstructions when essential parts of the heart are missing.
Cardiothoracic surgeons also work on heart and lung transplants.
Cardiothoracic surgeons work closely with cardiologists. Cardiologists investigate problems with the heart to find out what’s wrong. They refer to cardiothoracic surgeons, who do operations. It’s a good idea to see a cardiologist before going to a cardiothoracic surgeon.
To see a cardiothoracic surgeon, you need a referral from your GP or another medical specialist like a cardiologist. Your GP can help you decide about seeing a cardiothoracic surgeon and help you find someone who’s right for your child.
Before going to a cardiothoracic surgeon
Before seeing the cardiothoracic surgeon, it’s a good idea to find out about things like the following:
- Why you’re going: talk with your GP about why your child needs to see a cardiothoracic surgeon.
- Appointments: do you need to make the appointment, or will the GP make it for you?
- Waiting lists: how long before you can get an appointment to see the cardiothoracic surgeon?
- Is there anything you can do while you’re waiting for the appointment? For example, can your child start some treatment or therapy?
- Costs: how much will the appointment with the cardiothoracic surgeon cost? Check whether you can get money back from Medicare or private health insurance.
- Locations: find out where you have to go to see the cardiothoracic surgeon – for example, public hospital, private hospital or consulting rooms.
You can ask your GP these and any other questions before you go to the cardiothoracic surgeon. You could also ask the surgeon’s clinic when you make your appointment. It’s a good idea to write down your questions, so you don’t forget.
If you’re worried about your child’s heart, start by seeing your GP. Your GP will refer your child to a cardiologist or to a hospital emergency service if needed.