May 21, 2015
Staci E. Beamer, MD, chief resident in the UNC Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, was named the 2015 Nathan A. Womack Scholar during the annual meeting of the UNC Department of Surgery's Womack Society on May 15, 2015. The Womack Scholarship Award recognizes a senior Surgery resident who has demonstrated excellence in teaching, investigation and patient care, and has contributed to the residency and the Department of Surgery by exemplifying personal attributes and professional commitment that reflect credit on the department and on its residency programs.
After Dr. Beamer completes her residency at UNC in June, she will join the Mayo Clinic at Scottsdale, AZ, as a cardiothoracic surgeon.
The Womack Society is an organization of physicians who have trained as residents in the UNC Department of Surgery; it brings them together each year with current residents in the program. The annual meeting includes research presentations and social activities.
Thomas Caranasos, M.D., John Vavalle, M.D., and Michael Yeung, M.D., were on the WCHL radio show "Your Health" in April to talk about UNC's Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) program, which helps people who are too frail to undergo open heart surgery for valve replacement. Listen to the podcast here. Read more about UNC's TAVR program.
April 22, 2015
Paul T. Frantz, M.D., a heart surgeon, will speak at UNC Surgery Grand Rounds on May 13 as the first Peter J.K. Starek M.D. Visiting Professor in Cardiothoracic Surgery at UNC.
Dr. Frantz's topic is "Challenges, complexities and compromises: Welcome to the new world." The lecture will be at 7:15 a.m. on Wednesday, May 13, 2015, in the Clinic Auditorium on the Fourth Floor of the Old Clinic Building.
Dr. Frantz earned an M.D. from Georgetown University in 1971. He completed his general surgery residency (1976) and cardiothoracic surgery residency (1978) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. During his cardiothoracic surgery residency, he trained with Dr. Starek, whom the professorship honors. He holds board certification in both general and thoracic surgery.
From 1978 to 1982, Dr. Frantz held a cardiothoracic surgery faculty appointment at UNC, and has held a clinical surgical faculty appointment at the University of Virginia since 1984.
In 1982, he was appointed Founding Director of the Cardiac Surgery Program at Roanoke Memorial Hospital, now Carilion Clinic, in Roanoke, Va. In 2005, he was appointed Medical Director for Cardiac Services at Carilion Clinic and has held a faculty appointment as associate professor at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine in Roanoke since 2009.
In 2004, Dr. Frantz initiated a hospital-based Heart Alert Program for management of patients with STEMI (ST segment elevation myocardial infarction), a severe type of heart attack, and later expanded it to community EMS providers and regional referral hospitals throughout southwest Virginia and southern West Virginia. The program coordinates care to speed up life-saving treatment of patients with heart attacks. Dr. Frantz was involved in development and regional expansion of Carilion’s Therapeutic Hypothermia Program for management of post-cardiac arrest patients.
Dr. Frantz’s current professional interests include optimization of clinical outcomes for cardiac patients and education of medical students, residents, fellows and EMS/health and safety providers.
About the Starek Professorship:
Dr. Starek, a distinguished cardiac surgeon, was a faculty member in the UNC Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery from 1971 until his retirement in 2002. The Peter J.K. Starek M.D. Visiting Professorship in Cardiothoracic Surgery honors Dr. Starek and his contributions to UNC and to cardiac surgery.
The professorship, begun in 2015, is an annual invited lecture to be delivered by graduates of the UNC Cardiothoracic Surgery residency training program. The visiting surgeon delivers a lecture at Surgery Grand Rounds and holds a conference session with cardiothoracic surgery residents and faculty.
During his residency in cardiovascular and thoracic surgery at New York Hospital Cornell Medical Center, Dr. Starek trained with C. Walton Lillehei, M.D., who pioneered open-heart surgery. Dr. Starek also did a fellowship in cardiac revascularization surgery at St. Luke’s Hospital in Milwaukee, WI, with Dudley Johnson, M.D., a pioneer of coronary artery bypass surgery.
During his cardiothoracic residency, Dr. Starek worked with Dr. Robert Kaster, an engineer who designed successful prosthetic heart valves. At UNC, that association helped Dr. Starek become the first U.S. university surgeon to investigate a new heart valve, the Medtronic-Hall valve. Dr. Starek’s work with the valve gave him international recognition and he chaired an international heart valve meeting in 1984. He also edited a book, Heart Valve Replacement and Reconstruction: Clinical Issues and Trends.
At UNC, Dr. Starek performed cardiac surgery for adult patients and trained many residents and medical students. He was an innovator in patient care: he realized that patients’ surgical outcomes depended on post-operative care as well as surgical skills. Working with nurses and hospital administration, he was a leader in improving UNC Hospitals’ intensive care units. He also helped start the Orange Cardiovascular Foundation in Chapel Hill, a cardiac rehab program for post-operative patients.
Read more here about the Starek professorship and how to donate to support it.
In November 2014, Jim Aspell of Durham became at UNC Hospitals to receive a transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), a new, minimally invasive procedure for patients who are not able to undergo open surgery for aortic valve replacement.
Aspell's goals when he had the procedure were to return to the Smith Center to watch a basketball game and to spend Easter with his family. Recently, Aspell accomplished the first goal, going to the Smith Center, climbing the steps to his seat, and cheering for the Tar Heels. In a few weeks, he will be able to accomplish the second goal, sharing Easter with his family. Read more about Aspell here, and watch a video of him at the Dean Dome here.
To read more about aortic valve stenosis and the TAVR program at the UNC Center for Heart and Vascular Care, click here.
Thomas G. Caranasos, MD, and Andy Kiser, MD, of the UNC Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery; and John P. Vavalle, MD, and Michael Yeung, MD, of the UNC Division of Cardiology, are the team that performs TAVR procedures at UNC. Cassie Ramm, RN, is nurse coordinator for the TAVR program. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-806-1968.
March 3, 2014
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has appointed Andy C. Kiser, M.D., as Byah Thomason-Sanford Doxey Distinguished Professor in the Department of Surgery, effective March 1, 2015.
Dr. Kiser is chief of the UNC Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery. He provides cardiac surgery for adults at UNC Hospitals and is a professor of surgery in the UNC School of Medicine.
Dr. Kiser has expertise in minimally-invasive valve and coronary artery surgery. He is recognized as an international leader in arrhythmia surgery, and has pioneered paracardioscopic procedures to treat atrial fibrillation.
Dr. Kiser, a native of Moore County, N.C., earned B.S. and M.D. degrees at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and completed his training in both General Surgery (1997) and Cardiothoracic Surgery (2000) at UNC. He practiced cardiac and thoracic surgery in Pinehurst, N.C., until he joined the UNC Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery in November 2010; he became chief of the division in July 2011.
Dr. Kiser is a member of the UNC Center for Heart and Vascular Care, where he is associate director of academic operations. He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, the American College of Cardiology, and the American College of Chest Physicians.
The Doxey professorship was previous held by Colin Thomas, M.D., former chair of the Department of Surgery, who died in September 2014.
- Margaret Alford Cloud, UNC Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, email@example.com
Updated Jan. 21, 2015
Two UNC residents in General Surgery - Sara Kim, M.D., and Mansi Shah, M.D. - have won scholarships from Women in Thoracic Surgery.
Dr. Kim is a graduate of the University of Florida School of Medicine and is in her second year of Surgery residency.
Dr. Shah is a graduate of Boston University School of Medicine and has completed three years of Surgery residency; she is working this year in the lab of UNC pediatric surgeon Sean McLean, M.D.
They are among 12 winners of the scholarships this year. The scholarships cover meeting registration fees, lodging and up to $500 in travel expenses for the winners to attend the annual Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) meeting, which is taking place in San Diego, CA, Jan. 25-28, 2015.
The WTS Scholarship Program is open to female medical students, general surgery residents and thoracic surgery residents who are interested in a career in cardiothoracic surgery.
Dec. 15, 2014
In November 2014, James Aspell of Durham became the first patient at UNC to receive a new heart valve using transcatheter aortic valve replacement, or TAVR.
TAVR is a new technology that provides minimally-invasive aortic valve replacement for many patients who previously had no other options or were at high risk for conventional open heart surgery.
Read more about Aspell's procedure here, in an article by Laura Melega of UNC's Center for Heart and Vascular Care.
Medical directors of UNC's TAVR program are Thomas G. Caranasos, MD, assistant professor in the UNC Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery; and John P. Vavalle, MD, and Michael Yeung, MD, both assistant professors of medicine in the UNC Division of Cardiology. Cassie Ramm, RN, is nurse coordinator for the TAVR program. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-806-1968.
A study by , of outcomes of children who had the Ross Procedure for aortic valve replacement received the Congenital Heart Surgery President’s Award during the annual meeting of the Southern Thoracic Surgical Association, Nov. 5-8, 2014, in Tucson, AZ.
The paper, “Long-term outcomes after the Ross Procedure in children vary by age at operation,” was the result of the largest single-center study of the Ross operation in children to date and was done in collaboration with the University of Michigan's Congenital Heart Center. The study described outcomes in children ranging from newborns to 18-year-olds. The manuscript is expected to be published in the Annals of Thoracic Surgery in 2015. In the Ross Procedure, a patient's diseased aortic valve is replaced with the patient's own pulmonary valve; the pulmonary valve is then replaced with a donor valve.
The STSA Congenital Heart Surgery President’s Award was established in 2013 to recognize the best congenital surgery scientific paper delivered at the STSA annual meeting. The award is given on the basis of originality, content and presentation.
Dr. Nelson is an assistant professor in the UNC Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery and co-director of the UNC ECMO program. She specializes in congenital cardiac surgery and is a founder of the UNC Children's Heart Collaborative, a multidisciplinary research group that focuses on congenital heart disease.
Nov. 25, 2014
Born with a congenital heart defect, Samiya Hicks was diagnosed with congestive heart failure at just 4 months old. Her only hope of survival: a heart transplant. She got the transplant when she was 1 and now is a happy 4-year-old who, back home in Clayton, N.C., loves to play and dance. Samiya's parents are grateful to all the doctors, nurses and other people who took care of Samiya at UNC. Her heart surgeon was Michael R. Mill, M.D., of the UNC Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery. Dr. Mill, Samiya's mother said, was "heaven sent" - she was impressed with his kindness to her family as well as his surgical skills.
To read more about Samiya, click here; the story is from the NC Children's Hospital newsletter, CARE.
Nov. 24, 2014
Peter J.K. Starek, M.D., was a valuable member of the faculty of the UNC Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery from 1971 until his retirement in 2002. He has been an international leader and researcher in the field of valve replacement and repair. At UNC, he was a tireless educator and dependable colleague.
To honor Dr. Starek and his contribution to cardiothoracic surgery, the division is creating the Peter J.K. Starek, MD Visiting Professorship in Cardiothoracic Surgery. The Starek Visiting Professorship will be an annual invited lecture to be delivered by graduates of the UNC Cardiothoracic Surgery residency training program.
Read more here about the visiting professorship and how to donate to support it.
Nov. 18, 2014
Andy C. Kiser, M.D., chief of the UNC Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, spoke at the recent meeting of the European Association for Cardio-Thoracic Surgery (EACTS) on a suprasternal direct approach TAVR procedure that he developed. TAVR is transcatheter aortic valve replacement, a less invasive procedure for valve replacement that is aimed at people who are too frail to undergo traditional aortic valve surgery.
The EACTS meeting was Oct. 11-15, 2014, in Milan, Italy.
The Suprasternal Aortic Access System (SuprAA System, Aegis Surgical Ltd, Dublin, Ireland) is a new minimally invasive approach for replacing the aortic valves of high-risk patients with aortic stenosis. The SuprAA device described at EACTS allows direct access to the aorta and innominate artery without sternal or thoracotomy incisions. It allows direct and precise deployment into the aorta of a transcatheter aortic valve and allows use of large sheaths for delivery of the valve.
Watch an EACTS interview with Dr. Kiser and co-investigator Michael Reardon, M.D., chief of cardiac surgery at Houston Methodist Hospital and professor of surgery at Baylor University. (If the video is not showing on the linked page, go to http://www.eacts.org/annual-meeting/video-highlights-28th-annual-meeting/ and look under Video Highlights for "Acquired cardiac disease" and "Late breaker: Suprasternal approach TAVR FIM.")
UNC's ventricular assist device (VAD) program had tremendous growth in 2013-2014. Ventricular assist devices (VAD) are mechanical devices implanted in open heart surgery to provide increased blood flow for heart failure patients, greatly improving their quality of life and survival. The devices may be used as a bridge to heart transplant, or as a destination therapy for patients who are not medically eligible for heart transplant.
The number of VAD devices implanted into UNC patients grew by 206% during the 2013-2014 fiscal year. Of the 72 mechanical circulatory support devices implanted, 40 were for durable (home) support, including destination therapy and as a bridge to heart transplant. Thirty-two of the mechanical circulatory support devices were for temporary in-hospital support, with 24 patients receiving extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) as well.
Read more here, in an article by Laura Melega of the UNC Center for Heart and Vascular Care,
UNC has begun a program to offer transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) to patients who are too frail or ill to undergo open heart surgery. With TAVR, a new technology, physicians replace the aortic valve via minimally-invasive approaches, including percutaneous procedures (intervention without an incision), which provide outcomes that are as good, or sometimes better than, surgical valve replacement.
The TAVR procedure is well-suited for an academic medical center with a collaborative approach to patient care. The UNC Center for Heart & Vascular Care is a team of specialists from cardiac surgery, cardiology, interventional radiology and vascular surgery, provides comprehensive and well-coordinated patient care.
Thomas Caranasos, MD, of the UNC Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, is one of the TAVR program’s medical directors. “We are going to be at the forefront of not just using the technology but developing and advancing the technology,” he said.
John P. Vavalle, MD, and Michael Yeung, MD, of the UNC Division of Cardiology, are the other medical directors., RN, BSN, is the TAVR program coordinator.
To refer a patient or for more information, email email@example.com or call 1-800-806-1968.
Read more here, in an article by Laura Melega of the UNC Center for Heart and Vascular Care.
Jason Long, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of surgery in UNC’s Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, will be the guest on the "Your Health" radio program - he will discuss "Heart and Lung Surgery: Past, Present and Future."
We welcome Thomas G. Caranasos M.D., who joined the UNC Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery in July 2014 as assistant professor of surgery.
Dr. Caranasos, a heart and lung surgeon who specializes in adult cardiac surgery, has a special interest in aortic surgery, including the ascending aorta, arch pathology, thoracic aorta and aortic root; transcatheter aortic valve surgery; mitral and aortic valvular surgery; minimally invasive approaches to cardiac surgery; and video assisted thoracic surgery.
“I am passionate about the field of cardiac surgery because it allows me to offer treatment options to patients who often have a debilitating disease and treatment allows them to get back to enjoying life,” Dr. Caranasos said. “I also get to make a wonderful connection to the patient and family as they recover.”
Dr. Caranasos also serves as a director of the new Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) Program at UNC. John Vavalle, M.D. and Michael Yeung, M.D. of the UNC Division of Cardiology are also working on the program.
TAVR is a new technology that provides a treatment option for many patients who are too frail to undergo open heart surgery for aortic valve stenosis. With TAVR, physicians provide aortic valve replacement via minimally-invasive approaches, including percutaneous procedures (intervention without an incision), which provide outcomes that are as good as surgical valve replacement.
The TAVR Program is ideally suited for UNC, an academic medical center with a collaborative approach to patient care. The UNC Center for Heart & Vascular Care joins physicians from cardiac surgery, cardiology, interventional radiology, and vascular surgery who collaborate on patients’ care.
“I am excited to be a part of the transcatheter valve program at UNC. It is great to be able to offer patients in the region a cutting-edge technology that will treat their disease if they are too high-risk to undergo surgery,” said Dr. Caranasos. “I am also excited to be a part of this multidisciplinary team approach to treatment and having UNC be a leader in developing new technologies for treatment.”
Dr. Caranasos, a native of Gainesville, FL, completed a cardiothoracic surgery fellowship at the University of Florida in June 2014. He completed his general surgery residency at West Virginia University. He also earned M.D. and B.A. degrees from West Virginia University.
For appointments with Dr. Caranasos, call 919-966-3382 or 919-843-4614.
- Laura Melega, UNC Center for Heart and Vascular Care
The cardiac surgery and cardiology specialties at UNC Hospitals were recently ranked as "high performing" by U.S. News & World Report in its annual "America's Best Hospitals" issue. That means they are among the top 25 percent of hospitals in their specialty nationally in data compiled by U.S. News & World Report. Read more here in a story from the UNC Health Care newsroom.
Cardiac intensive care unit at UNC Hospitals celebrates five straight years of no ventilator-associated pneumonia
The Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU) at UNC Hospitals recently celebrated its fifth straight year of having no cases of ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP).
Widespread use of mechanical ventilation puts the CICU's critically ill patients at a particularly high risk for developing VAP. In 2008, the CICU began new practices to help reduce cases of VAP and keep their patients safe. CICU staff knew that cases of VAP would be reduced through the changes they implemented. But last year the CICU celebrated four consecutive years without a VAP -- an accomplishment unheard of among CICUs nationwide -- and this year the CICU reached its fifth year of being VAP-free.
Read more here in a story from the UNC Health Care newsroom.
Read the division's April 2014 newsletter(PDF).
Rex Healthcare plans to start construction of its new heart tower this fall. The 115-bed hospital, owned by UNC Health Care, will be home to North Carolina Heart & Vascular. Read more here