The Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery evolved into a leading clinical, teaching and research center from one of the earliest such programs in the United States. Evarts Graham, MD, first established the program and directed it himself in the 1930s. Graham is known for many outstanding achievements, including the first successful pneumonectomy (lung removal) for cancer in 1933.
Today, under the leadership of renowned cardiac surgeon, Ralph J. Damiano, Jr., MD, the division continues to be a pioneer in developing treatments for heart and lung disease in adults and children.
Over the years, the division has grown to include new specialties and programs.
Pediatric cardiothoracic surgery initially was performed at Barnes Hospital. Then, in 1968, a separate clinical service for pediatric cardiothoracic patients was created at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.
In 1988, the division created a separate service for general thoracic surgery at Barnes Hospital. At the same time, a separate path for the training of general thoracic surgeons was created. The American Board of Thoracic Surgery granted one additional fellowship position for this purpose. Currently, two fellows in cardiothoracic surgery and one fellow in general thoracic surgery are appointed each year. The training program is two years in length, and all three fellows are eligible for certification by the American Board of Thoracic Surgery.
In 1995, the boards of Barnes Hospital and The Jewish Hospital of St. Louis, two adjacent Washington University teaching hospitals, agreed to merge the two hospitals, creating Barnes-Jewish Hospital (BJH). The division’s offices and most of its clinical practice are located at BJH.
Washington University reached an agreement in 1999 with Christian Hospital Northeast – one of the affiliate hospitals of BJC HealthCare – for exclusive provision of cardiothoracic surgical services. This service now is an integral part of the division with two faculty members including a medical director.
In 2001, a critical intensive care service – which coordinates the care of patients in the 21-bed cardiothoracic intensive care unit – became part of the division. All of the physicians are board certified in both anesthesiology and critical care.
In addition, the division has an affiliation agreement with St. Mary’s Good Samaritan, Inc. of Mt. Vernon, IL, to assist with providing cardiac surgery services to the 250,000 people in its service area.