Heart surgeon answers common questions you have about surgery | Ascension
Dr. Greg England, cardiothoracic surgeon at Ascension Sacred Heart Bay in Panama City answers common questions about heart surgery.

Heart surgeon answers common questions you have about surgery

Dr. Greg England, cardiothoracic surgeon at Ascension Sacred Heart Bay in Panama City answers common questions about heart surgery.

When finding care for a heart condition, you may be told you need heart surgery, and that can be scary. Heart surgeries are needed to treat blockages. It can also repair or replace damaged valves. Cardiothoracic surgeon, Greg England, MD, at Ascension Sacred Heart Bay in Panama City, Florida has treated many patients with different heart care needs including open-heart surgery on patients who need advanced heart care. Dr. England shares his answers for some common questions you may have about heart surgery. 

What are the different types of heart surgery? 

The different types of heart surgery includes procedures to treat coronary disease, which are blockages on the surface of the heart and to repair or replace damaged or diseased heart valves. Coronary disease is more common than heart disease

Cryoablation and radio frequency ablation

There are two different types of ablations. One is called a cryoablation, which is freezing. The other is radiofrequency ablation, which is burning. Different cardiac electrophysiologists have different thought processes regarding the treatment modality. Your doctor can discuss your options with you to help you choose what is best for your care plan. 

Cryoablation uses a balloon to freeze heart cells that cause an irregular heartbeat. If the atrium is normal size or even a little bit dilated, this is the type of ablation that may be recommended. 

If your atrium is large, the balloon would end up inside the vein, which is not where you want it to be. If the balloon ends up in the vein, you can actually get stenosis or a narrowing of those veins. So in that scenario, your doctor may consult with you about a point by point radio frequency ablation which burns the cells causing the heart to beat abnormally. 


Sometimes, structural or heart valve damage can cause AFib. Heart surgeons specialize in minimally invasive surgical techniques to repair a heart valve and help prevent blood clots, using the WATCHMAN™ device. During a minimally invasive procedure, the surgeon makes tiny incisions. This surgical approach helps shorten your recovery time and helps lower your risk of infection. We deliver advanced care to help improve how your heart works.

What are the most common types of heart surgery? 

Coronary bypass grafting (CABG), is the most common type of heart surgery. CABG is done to treat the blocked arteries on the surface of the heart. 

Another popular heart surgery is atranscatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is an innovative procedure for patients with critical aortic stenosis seeking aortic valve replacement. The TAVR procedure enables the placement of a new aortic valve into the heart through a catheter that is inserted, usually through a small incision in the groin area, and guided up to the heart through the circulatory system. The average hospital stay for patients undergoing this new treatment method is 1 to 3 days, followed by 1 to 2 weeks for recovery. This is compared with 6 to 8 weeks for recovery from traditional, open-heart surgery. The TAVR procedure is also FDA-approved for a new valve to be placed inside a previously failed bioprosthetic valve. 

Mitral valve surgeries are also common. Cardiologists may consider this surgerywhen the mitral valve does not close completely, blood leaks backward inside your heart. This condition is called mitral regurgitation. During the MitraClip™ procedure, your heart team will insert the small clip using a thin tube that is inserted into a vein in your leg and guided to your heart. This small clip allows your mitral valve to close more completely, helping to restore normal blood flow through your heart.

How serious is heart surgery?

Heart surgery is major surgery but it’s something that’s done very commonly at Ascension Sacred Heart. Care teams at Ascension Sacred Heart, Ascension Sacred Heart Bay and Ascension Sacred Heart Emerald Coast provide safe, compassionate and personalized care for patients. 

Find a doctor who listens

Your heart care is important. To deliver personalized care, your cardiologist at Ascension Sacred Heart starts by listening to understand you, your health history and your goals. We take the time to answer all your questions — big and small. Remember to tell your doctor how you are feeling at each visit. By getting to know you, we deliver heart care that’s right for you. To find a heart doctor visit ascension.org/PensacolaHeart.