About cardiothoracic surgeons
A cardiothoracic surgeon is a medical doctor with special training and skills in heart and lung surgery.
Cardiothoracic surgeons operate on the heart, lungs, aorta and other organs in the chest, for people who have heart or lung diseases or conditions.
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 he needs minor or major heart or lung surgery.
Cardiothoracic surgeons are involved in many types of operations, ranging from fixing holes in the heart and blocked or leaking heart valves, to 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 the operation. 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 some information about the following issues:
- Why you’re going to the specialist: 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? It might be expensive, so you could check whether you can get money back from Medicare or private health insurance or whether you can get some other kind of financial help.
- Location: find out where you have to go to see the cardiothoracic surgeon – for example, a public or private hospital, or consulting rooms. You might have to travel further than you expect, depending on your child’s needs.
You might want to talk about these things and any other questions you have with your GP or cardiologist before you go to the cardiothoracic surgeon. You could also ask the cardiothoracic surgeon’s clinic when you make the 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.