Cardiothoracic Surgery

The Region's Leader in Cardiac Care. Teamwork. Passion. Patient-focused.

Kaweah Delta's open-heart surgery program was established in 1996, and within three years was named a 100 Top Heart Hospital in the nation. Since that time, more than 6,000 open-heart surgeries have been performed and the program has grown to encompass the leadership of three experienced and talented cardiothoracic surgeons.

Sergio Caminha, MD


Leheb Araim, MD




The focus of our program is to enhance the recovery process and improve quality of life for our heart patients. Kaweah Delta's cardiac surgeons, cardiologists, vascular surgeons, nurses, perfusionists, and cardiac technicians bring together many years of experience and innovative treatment strategies to provide heart patients with an unparalleled level of care. Together, we work as a team to provide patients with integrated and evidence-based medicine - and the level of care you need for heart disease without having to leave home.

Minimally Invasive Heart Surgery 

While open heart surgery requires an 8-10 inch incision, a surgeon performing minimally-invasive heart valve surgery can use incisions half the size to replace or repair malfunctioning valves or restore normal function to a person’s heart. Smaller incisions result in less bleeding, helping patients get up and about sooner, out of the hospital and home more quickly. Ultimately, the surgery can help preserve the function of heart muscle and result in improved quality of life, prolonged life, and reduced symptoms. 

Open-Heart Surgery

More than a million heart surgeries take place in the U.S. each year to correct heart problems. In California, Kaweah Delta has one of the highest open-heart surgery volumes in the state. During open-heart surgery, surgeons cut through or just above a person's breastbone to open the chest allowing them to operate on the heart.

Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery

Coronary artery bypass, also known as bypass surgery, is performed when a major blockage is found in the arteries of the heart. Generally, a vein is harvested from another part of the body, usually the leg, to bypass or "graft" the blockage and get blood flowing correctly in and out of the heart. Endoscopic vein harvesting (EVH) is the most common way in which to harvest a vein for bypass surgery. Kaweah Delta was the first in the region to do EVH and continues to be the Valley leader in this area. Boston Scientific recently recognized Kaweah Delta Registered Nurse Norman Solis, as a Gold Member in the EVH Leadership Circle for performing between 1000-1500 EVH cases, making him one of the top EVH clinicians in the U.S. and the world.

Valve Surgery

Heart valves control the flow of blood from one chamber to another. Normally, each of the valves opens wide enough to let blood flow through then closes tightly to stop leaking backward.

Two common problems caused by valve disease are narrowing of the valve opening and leaking of a valve. When a valve narrows or leaks, blood flow is restricted. This puts strain on the heart and can lead to heart failure and irregular heart rhythms. When any of this occurs, surgery is often needed to repair the problem.

Septal Defects

An Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) occurs when there is a hole in the wall or septum in the upper chambers of the heart. The hole in the wall allows blood to flow both directions between the right and left atrium. This is caused by an interruption in development of the septum during fetal development. An ASD is repaired surgically by patching or closing the opening with sutures.

A Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD) occurs when a hole develops between the right and left ventricle. This allows blood to flow from the left ventricle to the right ventricle and to re-circulate through the lungs. VSD may occur during fetal development or after a heart attack. A VSD may be repaired surgically with sutures or by patching the hole.

Maze Procedure (Atrial Fibrillation)

The maze procedure is a surgical treatment that stops an irregular heartbeat, lessening the risk of blood clots or stroke. This procedure can be used during open-heart surgery, coronary artery bypass and valve repair or replacement and allows a surgeon to create scar tissue to block the signals that cause the irregular heartbeat.

Thoracic Surgery

Kaweah Delta's thoracic surgery program is emerging to provide Central Valley residents with specialized surgical treatment of organs in the chest. The needs in the Valley are great for thoracic surgery, partly due to the area's high incidence of lung cancer, lung transplantation and surgery for emphysema and infections resulting from the area’s poor air quality. Thoracic surgery can treat diseased or injured organs in the thorax including: the esophagus, the trachea, membranes that protect a person’s lung, the area that separates their lungs, and their chest wall, diaphragm, heart and lungs.

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