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Heart Surgery Procedures

As the region’s leader in cardiac surgery, surgeons at Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia perform the latest types of cardiac surgeries, designed to address a full range of heart problems. Procedures include:

  • Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery (CABG), Including Off-Pump Surgery
  • Heart Valve Repair and Replacement
  • Endoscopic Vein Harvesting
  • Modified Maze Procedure and Thorascopic Mini MAZE
  • Closure of Atrial and Ventricular Septal Defects
  • Surgery for Atrial Myxoma and Other Heart Tumors
  • Repair of Aortic Aneurysm and Dissection
  • Pericardiectomy

Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery, Including Off-Pump Surgery

Thousands of successful bypass surgeries have been performed by Providence surgeons, and our heart center consistently ranks among the region’s best for clinical outcomes. Surgeons here also perform most bypass surgeries off-pump (without the heart-lung machine), which allows them to operate on the still beating heart. Off-pump surgery lowers the risk of bleeding, stroke and renal failure, leading to quicker recovery. Mortality is also reduced with off-pump surgery. Learn more about coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG).

Heart Valve Repair and Replacement

Heart valves such as the mitral, aortic and triscuspid valves may require surgical treatment when they are not properly pumping blood through the heart. Most operations are performed on the mitral or aortic valves, both located in the left side of the heart. Surgery for the triscuspid valve, located on the right side of the heart, is much less common and often occurs when the mitral or aortic valve also needs surgery.

About 70 percent of the mitral valve surgeries performed at Providence involve repair, rather than replacement. Our surgeons utilize the latest minimally invasive techniques, which means faster recovery for patients. When repair isn’t an option, surgeons use mechanical or tissue valves, depending on the patient’s age and other health or lifestyle conditions.

  • Mitral Valve Repair
  • Mitral Valve Replacement
  • Aortic Valve Replacement
  • Tricuspid Valve Repair and Replacement

Endoscopic Vein Harvesting

Bypass surgery often requires the “harvesting” of the patient’s own vein, usually from the leg. The tissue is then used to help repair the heart. At Providence, our cardiac surgeons have been using endoscopic techniques since 1999, reducing the risk of complications and infection from traditional harvesting methods.

Modified Maze Procedure and Thorascopic Mini-Maze

Most frequently performed as part of cardiac surgery, the modified maze procedure is a surgical treatment for atrial fibrillation. It uses radio waves or ultrasound energy to create scar tissue, blocking the abnormal electrical signals that cause the arrhythmia. The scar tissue directs electric signals through a controlled path, or maze.

Our surgeons also perform the thorascopic mini-Maze procedure -- the latest minimally invasive technique for stand-alone atrial fibrillation treatment. This utilizes three small incisions in the side of the chest and visualization with a thorascope. This results in quick recovery and return to normal activity.

Closure of Atrial and Ventricular Septal Defects

Some people are born with an atrial septal defect (an opening in the wall that separates the two upper heart chambers) or a ventricular septal defect (a hole in the wall separating the two lower chambers of the heart). These defects are often repaired during childhood or they close on their own. If the defect is left untreated, adults may experience fatigue, shortness of breath and irregular heartbeats.

To treat atrial and ventricular septal defects, surgeons patch the opening by using either a piece of the patient's own heart or a piece of synthetic material.

Surgery for Atrial Myxoma and Other Heart Tumor

A myoxma is a noncancerous tumor located in the right or left upper chamber (atrium) of the heart. Complications can arise when blood clots form as a result of a tumor that grows and cuts off blood flow through the heart, or if the tumor's cells break off and travel with the blood clot to another part of the body. Surgery removes the tumor and restores normal blood flow.

Other types of heart tumors exist, which are even more rare than atrial myxoma. They include rhabdomyomas, papillary fibroelastomas and sarcomas. Surgery may be an option for treating other heart tumors, too.

Repair of Aortic Aneurysm and Dissection

The aorta is the main artery that transports blood out of the heart. An aortic aneurysm is a bulge that has developed in this artery. If this bulge bursts and spills blood outside of the aorta, a person may bleed into the chest area.

To treat this aortic aneurysms, surgeons replace the section of the aorta where the aneursym occurred with a tubular graft. This can be done with traditional open surgery or minimally invasively. If done with a minimally invasive procedure, the graft is placed inside the aorta using a catheter inserted through the groin (femoral) artery. This procedure is known as TEVAR, transcatheter endoscopic vascular aortic repair.

With aortic dissection, the aorta develops a tear within its inner layer. Blood then moves quickly through this tear, causing the inner and middle sections of the aorta to break apart (dissect), forming what's known as a false lumen. A true lumen allows blood to flow normally into blood vessels, while a false lumen creates a fake pathway with no outlet for blood to reach the blood vessels.

Aortic dissections are divided into two groups, Type A and Type B. For Type A, which is more common and life-threatening, immediate surgery is needed. During surgery, surgeons remove as much of the torn aorta as they can and replace it with a tube graft in order to restore blood flow to the true lumen of the aorta.


The heart is surrounded by a membrane called the pericardium. When this membrane becomes inflamed, pericarditis occurs and fluid may buildup between the heart and the pericardium. The result may be pain, shortness of breath and increasing pressure that can affect the heart's ability to pump. To help get rid of the excess fluid, surgery may be used in order to remove part of the pericardium.