Cardiovascular surgery services

Our cardiovascular surgeons perform complex heart procedures in our dedicated operating room for heart surgery. Patients recover in our progressive care unit, a 40-bed unit specializing in cardiac care and heart monitoring.

Common procedures include:

*Some procedures can be performed robotically. Talk to your surgeon to see if you are a candidate.


Our program has received a distinguished three-star rating from The Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) for its patient care and outcomes in isolated coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) procedures. The three-star rating denotes the highest quality category for elite heart bypass surgery in the U.S. and Canada. Swedish also has received a Joint Commission certification in coronary artery disease, open heart surgeries, such as CABG and heart failure.

Robotic-Assisted Cardiac Surgery

Swedish Medical Center is the only hospital in Denver offering this comprehensive range of complex cardiothoracic surgeries with the aid of a surgical robot.

Procedures offered with the assistance of the surgical robot include:

  • Mitral Valve Repair & Replacement
  • Maze Procedure
  • Tricuspid Valve Repair & Replacement
  • Left Atrial Myxoma
  • Lobectomy
  • Mediastinal Masses (Chest Tumor)
  • Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting (CABG)

Learn more about our Surgical Robotics Institute

Structural Heart Program

The heart is made up of a complex system of chambers, walls and valves that can be damaged due to illness, injury, aging or a congenital heart disease. Damage to these vital components of the heart often causes problems with blood flow. This can lead to a number of symptoms ranging from fatigue and leg cramps to stroke and kidney dysfunction. Swedish Medical Center offers the most advanced surgical treatment options for repairing the structure of the heart. Our cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons work collaboratively to ensure the most minimally invasive option possible is used.

Structural Heart Procedures

  • Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) Closure: This procedure repairs a congenital heart defect in which the wall that separates the upper two heart chambers has an opening or hole.
  • Transcatheter Mitral Valve Repair: A clip is inserted through a catheter to treat mitral regurgitation (a leaky heart valve).
  • Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO) Closure: A catheter is used to guide the placement of an implant to close a hole in the heart that didn’t close when it should, just after birth.
  • Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR): Performed minimally invasively, this procedure repairs a damaged valve by inserting a replacement inside of the old valve.
  • Mitral Valve Replacement: In this procedure, a damaged mitral valve is removed and replaced with either a biologic or mechanical valve. This surgery can be performed robotically.

Aortic stenosis treatment

While there is no medical treatment for mild/moderate aortic stenosis, we can manage symptoms. If you are diagnosed, medication such as diuretics, nitrates and beta-blocker may be prescribed to help relieve symptoms.

If you have severe aortic stenosis, you may need valve replacement surgery, which is the only treatment option. We perform two primary approaches to valve replacement surgery:

Aortic valve replacement (AVR): If you are physically well enough to tolerate open-heart surgery, AVR can successfully remove the aortic valve and replace it with either a mechanical or biological valve made from human or animal tissue.

Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR): If you are unable to have open-heart surgery, categorized as high-risk or have severe aortic stenosis, TAVR is an alternative procedure that inserts a new aortic valve with the assistance of a catheter.

Lifestyle changes can also be an effective treatment. While children with mild aortic stenosis may be able to take part in most activities, adults with severe aortic stenosis may be told to limit strenuous activity and avoid playing competitive sports, even if they have no symptoms.

For more information on aortic stenosis, the AVR or TAVR procedures or to learn more about our services, feel free to call our team at (303) 788-4759.

Inferior vena cava filter placement and removal

During the inferior vena cava (IVC) filter placement procedure, a filtering device is put within the IVC, a large vein in the abdomen responsible for returning blood from the lower half of the body to the heart. IVC filters help trap large clots to prevent them from reaching the heart and lungs. This can reduce the risk of pulmonary embolism. This procedure is used for patients who don’t respond to or cannot be given conventional medical therapy, like blood thinners.

To remove the IVC filter, a catheter is inserted and advanced to the site of the filter. The filter has a small hook or knob at the end that allows the catheter to capture the filter, close it and withdraw it from the body.

Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR)

At Swedish, we are proud to offer TAVR, a procedure that provides relief to patients with aortic stenosis considered too high-risk for open-heart surgery. Our approach to the TAVR procedure is centered on our multi-disciplinary team approach, with our cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons actively involved in every case and specially trained to perform aortic valve replacement.

For more information on the TAVR procedure or to learn about our TAVR capabilities, call our team at (303) 788-4759.

How the TAVR procedure works

During a TAVR procedure, a sheath and balloon is pushed through to the aortic valve accessed through the patient’s groin. The balloon is then inflated to open the narrowed valve, expanding the new valve into place. The new valve will push the leaflets of the diseased valve aside and secure itself in place. The balloon is then deflated and removed, and echocardiograms test the valve for proper placement. Each patient is unique, and every replacement valve is perfectly sized to your exact dimensions prior to surgery.

Patients coming to Swedish for TAVR are admitted the same day as their procedure. Blood flow and velocity often improve immediately after surgery, with patients typically noticing improved circulation within 24-48 hours.

TAVR vs. open-heart surgery

In surgical aortic valve replacement, the damaged aortic valve is removed through open-heart surgery and replaced by a mechanical or biological valve. Unlike open-heart surgery, TAVR does not remove the existing valve, opting instead to insert a new aortic valve with the assistance of a catheter, offering a less invasive method of treatment.

Open-heart surgery requires the patient to be under general anesthesia and the chest bones to be opened; TAVR procedures use conscious sedation and leave chest bones intact, making the average length of stay significantly shorter—approximately 2-3 days versus 4-8 days.

For patients who can tolerate open-heart surgery, this is the preferred method of treatment. However, TAVR is an excellent option for those patients who are too high-risk.

Patients treated with TAVR

Not all patients with advanced aortic stenosis are candidates for TAVR. Our cardiac professionals can assess whether each individual patient meets the criteria with a series of tests performed over the course of several days, including: CT scans, an echocardiogram and a diagnostic heart catheter to examine your arteries.

Talk with your doctor to determine if you are a candidate for this minimally invasive procedure.

Open heart program

Swedish’s open heart program is for patients who are treated aggressively for wellness before and after bypass or valve replacement surgery. Patients undergo comprehensive education and assessments in our progressive care unit (PCU) before surgery and throughout their stay. This leads to fewer days in the hospital and a better recovery overall.