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Cardiac / Heart Surgery

The Heart Center, located at Mercy Hospital, is an expanded cardiovascular services program. It provides seamless delivery of care – from pre-admission testing, to treatment, to care after discharge.

Treatment Options

  • Coronary balloon angioplasty
  • Electrophysiology services for irregular heart rhythms
  • Open heart surgery, including coronary artery bypass surgery and valve replacement surgery
  • Totally Endoscopic Coronary Artery Bypass surgery, known as TECAB (minimally invasive)
  • Coronary artery stent placement
  • Cardiac implants – Mercy Hospital is the only hospital in Western New York with a comprehensive program for the use of ventricular assist devices (VAD), a mechanical pump used to decrease the workload of the heart
  • Percutaneous closure for PFO in patients with stroke (closure of an abnormal opening between the left and right atria (upper chambers) of the heart)

I brought my younger sister to Mercy Hospital for an aortic angiogram/angioplasty. The staff couldn't have been more nice.

Everyone was wonderful: the staff who cared for her, the people at the information desk who helped me to find my way around, and the people in the halls who helped when I was going the wrong way.

She received excellent care from her nurses on the 7th floor and the doctors and nurses in the catheterization lab. How about the uniformed waiters who deliver meals – that's a class operation – and the food she was served was delicious.

Thank you for being so caring of someone who was scared to death of the procedure.

– Diana

Watch our physician videos to meet some of Catholic Health's cardiac physicians. You'll hear them discuss treatment options available, including minimally invasive surgery.

Minimally-Invasive Cardiac Surgery

Cardiologists at the Heart Center use state-of-the-art techniques and equipment to offer minimally invasive:

  • Coronary artery bypass surgery, including Totally Endoscopic Coronary Artery Bypass surgery, or TECAB
  • Valve replacement 
  • Chronic Total Occlusion PCI (Percutaneous Coronary Intervention), which treats severe blockages (99% or higher) of coronary arteries

Minimally invasive cardiac surgery offers less pain, scarring, and risk of infection or complications. Recovery time is much quicker, allowing patients to return to normal activities, such as driving a car, a week after surgery compared to a month or more after traditional open heart surgery.

Listen to Dr. John Bell-Thomson discuss minimally-invasive surgery on 96.1 WJYE-FM. As a guest on the radio station's 30-minute Spotlight on Health program, Dr. Bell-Thomson describes how robotic surgery is performed, the teamwork involved and who is a candidate for a minimally invasive approach.

Robert Guiffreda underwent heart surgery in October 2009.

Robert Guiffreda Minimally invasive surgery left him with only a 7 cm scar under his left chest and he had little pain after the procedure.

"My surgery was on Wednesday, I was discharged on Saturday and by Sunday I was up walking around my home,” he recalled. “And, by the following Tuesday, I was walking up and down the road outside my house.”

“I am so grateful and impressed with the care I received at Mercy,” emphasized Guiffreda.

“I can’t say enough about Dr. Lico, the one-on-one care in the Open Heart Unit, the caring staff of the 7 McAuley West Unit, and everybody I encountered during my hospital stay.”

West Seneca resident Gary Kelchlin said when he first learned he might need surgery to repair his heart’s mitral valve after a heart attack, robotic-assisted surgery was not even in the picture.

Gary Kelchlin“At that time, I was looking at conventional open heart surgery or a more minimally invasive approach using clips that was available in Cleveland,” he said.

After meeting with Dr. Bell-Thomson, however, Kelchlin learned that an advanced minimally invasive robotic procedure was a newly available option at Mercy Hospital. “I just didn’t want a big scar and the months of recovery with the open chest surgery,” he said. “After listening to Dr. Bell-Thomson, I had complete confidence in him and decided to have the robotic surgery right here in Buffalo.”

Kelchlin, a retired greens keeper for the City of Buffalo, became the first patient in Western New York to undergo a robotic-assisted mitral valve repair. Within a month, he was back to his normal activities. He described his experience as “amazing” and his entire healthcare team as “even more amazing.”


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I came to the Emergency room with severe chest pains. It turns out that I was in the midst of a heart attack.

I was immediately taken in and given excellent care from the ER staff, and I was then put into a room. The cardiologist and staff did a superb job. I had an angioplasty and a stent put in before I knew what was happening. I can tell you that the instant it was done, I felt the difference physically.

Having a heart attack at age 47 is a scary thing, but I truly felt that I was given the best care in Western New York.

– Louis Croce

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