German Cardiac Society (DGK) is the German society for research in the sphere of pathologies of the heart and large blood vessels. Cooperating closely with cardiologists from other countries, DGK has become a member of the World Heart Federation and the European Society of Cardiology.
The scientific and practical developments of DGK bring cardiosurgery in Germany to an excellent level. The high-tech cardiac, thoracic, and vascular interventions are performed at multidisciplinary university hospitals and specialized heart centers. With correct organization and preparation, people from all countries can undergo cardiac surgery in Germany.
Types of Cardiac Surgery
German cardiothoracic and cardiac surgeons prefer minimally invasive and endovascular interventions to open surgeries. Being performed without chest opening, such surgeries are connected with fewer risks, may be performed in elderly and debilitated patients, and reduce hospital stay. In German hospitals, there are such procedures for all the most widespread heart and vessels pathologies:
- Beating heart coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) (1). A minimally invasive off-pump CABG allows restoring blood flow to the coronary arteries without connecting the patient to the heart-lung machine. The donor vessel is harvested from the patient’s leg or chest wall and is connected to the aorta while the patient’s heart continues beating. The surgery is performed under general anesthesia, and it takes several hours.
- Minimally invasive direct coronary artery bypass grafting (MIDCAB) (2). According to recent information, MIDCAB is even less invasive compared to CABG. Only a 2-to-3 inch incision is enough for restoring the coronary blood flow and improving the condition of the heart.
- Endovascular interventions on heart valves and related services. TAVI is designed for endovascular prosthetics of the aortic valve. MitraClip and Mitralign are performed in patients with functional mitral valve regurgitation. Cardioband allows for performing the direct mitral valve annuloplasty with the help of an endovascular catheter.
Best hospitals for thoracic and cardiovascular interventions
The thoracic and cardiovascular surgical interventions are carried out in the Departments of Cardiac and Cardiothoracic surgery of multidisciplinary hospitals and the specialized heart centers. Some healthcare facilities may specialize in performing separate procedures, e.g., coronary artery bypass grafting or transcatheter aortic valve implantation. Focusing on specific strategies makes surgeons more skilled and increases success rates.
For instance, the list of the best hospitals for aortic valve replacement surgery includes:
- University Hospital Frankfurt am Main, Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery
- University Hospital Heidelberg, Department of Cardiac Surgery
- University Hospital RWTH Aachen, Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery
- University Hospital Würzburg, Department of Adult and Pediatric Cardiothoracic Surgery
- University Hospital Tuebingen, Department of Adult and Pediatric Cardiothoracic Surgery
The specialization of hospitals may change over time. Thus, the best hospitals for aortic valve replacement surgery may buy new equipment or employ new brilliant surgeons and perform off-pump cardiac interventions.
Cardio surgery in Germany during the COVID-19 lockdown
Currently, Germany has entry restrictions aimed at preventing the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The exceptions to the travel ban are strictly defined and include:
- Residents of Germany
- People on connecting international flights (they can’t leave the airport’s transit zone)
- Few special cases
The concluding point of this list gives people with heart pathologies a chance to travel to Germany for medical reasons. However, it is not always easy to provide a rationale for entering the country during the lockdown. The medical tourism provider Booking Health will help with this.
Booking Health provides a patient with an invitation for treatment from the chosen hospital and facilitates visa issuing. If the visa request is declined or the local German embassy is closed, Booking Health makes entering the country legal due to the Federal police’s cooperation.
An interpreter accompanies the patient during medical procedures and communication with the hospital care team. A personal medical coordinator manages all issues related to the treatment program or staying in Germany.