Departmental Highlights & News

Drs. Norman Shumway, left, and Donald C. Harrison meet the press after they perform the first adult human transplant in the United States in January 1968.

Stanford is able to leverage a series of "firsts," including the first heart transplant in the US, the first heart-lung transplant in the world, and one of the first left ventricular assist device (LVAD) procedures in the world. Stanford dominates the market in programs involving a high percentage of complex procedures. Several of Stanford's most successful cardiac programs have a broad geographical base, with over 20% of the volume for heart transplants, aorta and valve procedures coming from outside the Bay Area. Stanford also has a strong international cardiac market with cardiac patients representing more than 50% of overall international business. 

Dr. Bruce Reitz and his surgical team perform the world’s first successful combined adult human heart-lung transplant in 1981

Dr. Anson Lee achieves high recognition for work with Atrial Fibrillation

Dr. Lee was recognized for "Intrinsically stretchable electrode array enabled in vivo electrophysiological mapping of atrial fibrillation at cellular resolution," describing novel "Elastronic" stretchable bioelectronic sensors capable of performing high-resolution electrophysiological heart measurements, and  "Screening and Prophylactic Amiodarone Reduces Post-Operative Atrial Fibrillation in At-Risk Patients" identifying that "a subset of patients undergoing cardiac surgery who derive maximal benefit from prophylactic amiodarone treatment, resulting in reduced rates of POAF and likely hospital read-missions."

Ngan Huang granted courtesy appointment in chemical engineering

Ngan F. Huang, PhD, has been granted a courtesy appointment in the chemical engineering department. This will help foster interdisciplinary research between the Stanford Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery and Chemical Engineering.

Are You Smarter Than Your Attending?

The AATS-sponsored contest, "Smarter Than Your Attending?" concluded in February after challenging participants' knowledge of cardiothoracic surgery. This iOS and Android smartphone game app created by Edward Bender, MD—clinical professor in the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery—provided five questions every week for six weeks covering topics in Adult and Congenital Cardiac Surgery, Lung and Chest Wall Surgery, Diaphragm and Mediastinal Surgery, and Critical Care. Contestants answered multiple choice questions, and the question and answer sessions were timed to provide some fun and drama.

Department research and clinical expertise showcased at the 2021 AATS Annual Meeting

The virtual AATS 101st Annual Meeting, held April 30 - May 2, 2021, featured the Aortic Symposium and Mitral Conclave, where experts spoke about how they optimize and even revolutionize exceptional treatment. Surgeons are the creators and disseminators of new knowledge—and with their leadership and medical teams have the tools they need to advance patient care.

Tomi Obafemi featured in Black Resident Spotlight

Born in Nigeria, Tomi has had the privilege of splitting his childhood between New Zealand and the USA. He has desired to be a Cardiothoracic Surgeon for as long as he can remember and his time in medical school at UTMB only confirmed this. During the residency application process, Stanford Health Care became his dream program. It is where he envisioned receiving the best training to become a CT surgeon and has not been disappointed.

Bad News Made Better: How an App Helps Explain Lung Cancer Surgery

To test whether an educational intervention could help with lung cancer patient care, the Leah Backhus & Mark Berry Lab developed a multimedia education app to help explain the resection procedure to patients. Their app had three features: a 3D model of the lungs and associated structures, video walkthroughs of lung surgeries, and the ability for the surgeon to upload and annotate CT and PET images in real-time. Surgeons and nursing staff were trained in how to use the app and they then either did or did not use the app as part of their pre-surgery discussion with patients.

Stanford Health Care delivers innovative treatments and exceptional outcomes for structural heart conditions

At Stanford Health Care, we're advancing the standard of care for patients with structural heart disease, offering leading-edge diagnostics and interventional treatment options. Our expert faculty members are experienced to handle the most complex cases. We provide personalized, multidisciplinary care, offering the safest, least invasive approach possible.

Stanford Health Care recognized for mitral valve repair

Stanford Health Care, a designated a Mitral Valve Repair Reference Center, is one of only eight in the country, and the only one in the West. The designation, made by the American Heart Association and Mitral Foundation, recognizes best practices in repairing mitral valves. The designation was established to encourage more patients with severe mitral valve prolapse to get the valve repaired rather than replaced, according to a press release from the American Heart Association. Stanford Health Care, along with the other centers, demonstrated a record of "superior clinical outcomes in degenerative mitral valve repair," the release said.  

Stanford CT Surgery celebrates Black history

We’re fortunate to have Dr. Leah Backhus and Dr. Elan Burton as part of our full time faculty.  They are talented surgeons, thoughtful researchers, and dedicated mentors.  Dr. Backhus is the Chief of Thoracic Surgery at the Palo Alto VA and Dr. Burton is a clinical assistant professor based at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. Black surgeons and researchers have been integral to the development of cardiothoracic surgery.  

Department research and clinical expertise showcased at the 2021 Society of Thoracic Surgeons Annual Meeting

The STS Annual Meeting was an immersive digital experience that combined a tradition of excellence with the innovation of tomorrow. STS 2021 was a fully virtual annual meeting that was designed for all members of the cardiothoracic surgery team. Whether you’re an experienced surgeon, just starting your career, still in training, or an allied health professional, there was an immense amount of content designed to keep you up to date in the rapidly evolving field of cardiothoracic surgery.  

More, better, faster: A standout year for Stanford Health Care’s heart transplant program

While the COVID-19 pandemic forced some transplant centers to temporarily slow or even shut down, Stanford Medicine’s program continued apace, as the medical center maintained enough beds for patients, who were housed in an isolated unit, and established a rigorous testing program to ensure patient safety.

Leah Backhus and CT Surgery "Cardinal Chest Cutters" win Team Spirit Award at TSF Virtual Fun Run & Walk

Participants ran or walked this virtual 5K during the week of January 22-31, 2021. All proceeds benefitted TSF cardiothoracic surgery research programs.  

Stanford Hospital Receives Mitral Valve Repair Reference Center Award

Stanford Hospital is pleased to announce that its application for recognition as a Mitral Valve Repair Reference Center has been approved. In partnership with the American Heart Association and Mitral Foundation, the Mitral Valve Repair Reference Center Award was created to recognize centers in the United States that have a demonstrated record of superior clinical outcomes in degenerative mitral valve repair resulting from evidence-based guideline treatment. This award recognizes Stanford Hospital's contribution to advancing best practice in the surgical treatment of mitral valve disease.

Dr. Leah Backhus interviewed on STS podcast, "Same Surgeon, Different Light"

In this episode, Dr. David Tom Cooke interviews STS Director-at-Large Dr. Leah Backhus from Stanford Health Care. Listeners will learn how positive labels “slapped on” Dr. Backhus at a young age help buoy her throughout her journey, but she cautions that such labels can be good and bad and explains why. Dr. Backhus also shares that after an “unwelcoming reception” into neurosurgery, she chose a career in cardiothoracic surgery. This experience helped her realize that mentors “do not have to look like you, they just need to get you.” “Same Surgeon, Different Light” is a program from the Society designed to demystify cardiothoracic surgery, revealing the men and women behind their surgical masks.