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The UNC Cardiac Surgery program offers a full range of surgical treatment of heart disease. We specialize in treating adult patients with complex medical issues such as thoracic aortic disease, heart failure, valvular disorders, diabetes, end-stage renal disease requiring hemodialysis, and blood clotting disorders. We truly believe that our patients come first, and we develop an individual plan of care for each patient. Our multidisciplinary team includes three heart surgeons, an adult nurse practitioner, a pharmacist, a case manager, and specially trained nurses.

A separate team treats children who need heart surgery or adults who need surgery for congenital heart problems. For information on UNC’s Pediatric Cardiac Surgery program, click here. For information on UNC’s Adult Congenital Cardiac Surgery program, click here.

Cardiac surgeons work closely with physicians from the Division of Cardiology and Division of Vascular Surgery to provide the best care for patients.

UNC Hospitals has an intensive care unit and a step-down unit that are dedicated to the care of patients after cardiothoracic surgery. The Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit recently received the Beacon Award for Critical Care Excellence. It is the only intensive care unit in the state of North Carolina to receive this prestigious award.

Meet the Team

Adult Cardiac Surgeons

 Thomas G. Caranasos, MD

John S. Ikonomidis, MD, PhD

  Aurelie Merlo, MD

Advanced Practice Providers

  • Ruben Bocanegra, Physician Assistant
  • Kevan Haas, Physician Assistant
  • Andrew Shirlen, Physician Assistant
  • Kaylin Mancari, Physician Assistant
  • Megan Turner, Nurse Practitioner
  • Courtney Holloway, Nurse Practitioner
  • Tracy Vernon-Platt, Nurse Practitioner


Julia Coleman



Julia Coleman, Nurse Coordinator


Conditions We Treat

  • Coronary disease
  • Valvular disease
  • Heart failure
  • Cardiogenic shock
  • Congenital heart disease in adults
  • Aortic aneurysm
  • Aortic dissection
  • Chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension
  • Constrictive pericarditis
  • Lead infection or lead damage
  • Atrial fibrillation

Procedures We Perform

  • Coronary artery bypass grafting
  • Off pump coronary artery bypass grafting
  • Total arterial revascularization
  • Surgical valve replacement (aortic, mitral, tricuspid, pulmonic)
  • Mitral valve repair
  • Minimally invasive mitral valve procedures
  • Transcatheter aortic valve replacement/implantation
  • Transcathter valve in valve placement
  • Mitraclip
  • Left ventricular assist device
  • Impella 5.5 insertion
  • ECMO (veno arterial and veno-venous)
  • Heart transplantation
  • Minimally invasive ASD repair
  • Ascending aorta/ hemi arch / total arch replacement
  • Aortic arch stenting
  • Thoracic endovascular aortic replacement (TEVAR)
  • Open repair of thoracoabdominal aneurysm
  • Endovascular repair of thoracoabdominal aneurysm
  • Pulmonary endarterectomy
  • Pericardiectomy
  • Pacemaker/AICD lead extraction
  • Surgical management of atrial fibrillation (convergent procedure, thoracoscopic appendage clip placement)


For new patient appointments with UNC Adult Cardiac Surgery, call (984) 974-2872.
For return patient appointments with UNC Adult Cardiac Surgery, call (984) 974-2900.

We prefer that any test results be faxed or CDs with images be mailed to us prior to the first appointment so that we can review all information before seeing the patient. If you have questions about what is needed, call (919) 966-3381.

  • Fax test results to Julia Coleman at 919-966-3475.
  • Mail CDs of images to:

Julia Coleman, RN
UNC Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery
3040 Burnett-Womack Building, CB #7065
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7065