Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine


Cardiothoracic Surgery Fellowship

Program Overview

The Cardiothoracic Surgery Fellowship program at Northwestern has been training leaders in thoracic Surgery since 1976. The goal of the program is to produce excellent cardiac and thoracic surgeons by combining intensive operative experience in core cardiac and thoracic surgical procedures with high volume exposure to cutting edge techniques and technologies including endovascular aortic surgery, robotic surgery, interventional airway procedures, state of the art ventricular assist devices and transplantation.


Clinical Experience

The three years of the program consist of rotations in thoracic surgery, cardiac surgery, congenital heart surgery and cardiac catheterization. Residents take on graduated responsibility for increasingly complex patients and operations and learn to manage a busy and complicated practice in preparation for independent practice after graduation. The thoracic surgery rotations focus on the diagnosis and treatment of common and complex pathologies of the lung, airway, esophagus, chest wall and mediastinum. The Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center provides a wide range of experience in malignant lung and esophagus tumors as well as metastatic disease to the chest, malignant pleural disease, mediastinal tumors and chest wall masses. There is extensive multidisciplinary collaboration establishing a model for patient-centered care. Close relationships with Pulmonary Medicine and primary care practices ensure residents are well versed in the diagnostic and therapeutic techniques for benign lung, airway and pleural disease as well. The newly opened lung transplant program extends these experiences to include treatment of advanced end-stage lung disease via lung volume reduction and single and bilateral lung transplant. Finally, our service is intimately involved with the Gastroenterology Esophageal Motility Disorders Center at Northwestern which sees a large volume of patients with complex benign esophageal disease including failed anti-reflux procedures and end-stage achalasia.

The adult cardiac surgery rotations in the early portion of training focus on use of cardiopulmonary bypass to treat straightforward ischemic and valvular disease. As residents become comfortable with the basic skills and concepts, they take on graduated responsibility for increasingly complex patients and operations and learn to manage a busy and complicated service. During the second year, the residents spend one month in the cardiac cath lab to learn advanced wire skills in preparation for performing endovascular aortic and valvular procedures. The cardiac experience culminates in the cardiac surgery chief position for 6 months in the final year, during which the resident runs all of the day to day activities of the service.

The congenital heart disease rotation occurs near the end of the second year at the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago across the street from Northwestern Memorial Hospital. This experience is designed to provide residents with an appreciation of the spectrum of congenital heart disease as well as an enhanced understanding of cardiac hemodynamics which can be applied to adult disease. Certification in congenital heart disease does require an additional year of training. However for those with an interest in congenital surgery, additional time can be spent at the Lurie Children’s Hospital during their third year. Three months of elective time in the third year is designed to allow residents to focus in an area of specific professional interest. This may include heart failure, congenital heart disease, great vessel disease, lung transplant, minimally invasive thoracic surgery or other areas.

This page last updated Dec 12, 2014

Department of Surgery
251 East Huron St. Galter 3-150
Chicago, IL 60611-2950
Phone: 312.926.8060
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