Heart and vascular surgery in Idaho Falls, Idaho

At Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, our cardiovascular surgeons perform a range of heart and vascular surgeries to improve heart function and blood flow. We also have a full-service cardiac rehabilitation program to help patients regain their strength after heart surgery.

For more information about heart and vascular surgery, please call (208) 529-6111. If you have a surgery scheduled, please pre-register online.

Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center is small enough to give every patient the individual attention they deserve, but big enough to offer state-of-the-art care. We have the latest technology to enable minimally invasive surgical techniques and a support staff that receives ongoing training on technological advancements, putting heart and vascular surgery at Eastern Idaho Regional at the forefront of modern medicine.

Healthgrades awarded Eastern Idaho Regional with a five-star rating for coronary intervention excellence in 2016, placing us in the top 10 percent of all hospitals that offer coronary intervention.

Coronary intervention excellence award logos
Coronary intervention excellence award logos

Heart surgery

Open-heart surgery means a cardiovascular surgeon will cut into the heart. Because the heart is stopped during the procedure, patients are put on a bypass pump. An example of an open-heart surgery is the implantation of a new heart valve.

Pacemaker implantation

A pacemaker helps regulate your heart's rhythm when there is a problem with its electrical system. Having a pacemaker implanted is not considered major surgery--the procedure takes about two hours and is done in the cardiac catheterization lab.

The pacemaker, a small device about the size of two stacked silver dollars, is placed under the skin of your chest just below the collarbone. The device runs on batteries and is always sensing your heartbeats. It paces your heart only when it has waited a certain amount of time and your heartbeats have not occurred.

Patients typically don't feel the pacemaker as it is working. Most pacemakers can be programmed, meaning the doctor can adjust the pacemaker from the outside of the body, without surgery. The lifespan of a pacemaker depends on how often it is used and how much energy is required to pace the heart.

Potential pacemaker complications include:

  • A wire may become dislodged after surgery
  • A lung may collapse when the wire is passed under the collarbone into the vein

Heart surgery FAQs

Several factors will determine if you need medications after surgery. Your nurse or doctor will explain any necessary medications and advise how to take your old medications. It is very important to follow your care team's medication instructions.
Many patients feel stiff and sore at the incision site, but pain medication will be prescribed. Keep your nurse informed of your pain levels. Properly managing your pain is a key component to a quick recovery. You may need blood products during or after your surgery, and your doctor will discuss this with you.
Walking increases circulation, improves lung inflation and helps decrease the amount of strength lost after surgery. Being active as soon as possible will aid in a healthy recovery. However, inactivity after your surgery may lead to complications.
There will be an incision the length of your breastbone in the center of your chest. With bypass surgery, there may be one or more incisions on your legs or arms. That is where the vein is removed for use as a graft bypass. The skin will be closed with sutures or staples. With the newer vein harvesting technique used at Eastern Idaho Regional, the incisions to remove these veins are often very small.
You can typically resume normal activities within the first month after surgery. However, activities that put stress on the upper body will need to be omitted. You should increase your activity gradually, but allow time to rest.
Incentive spirometry is a breathing tool to promote good lung inflation. You should continue your breathing exercises for the first month after surgery.

Vascular surgery

At Eastern Idaho Regional, we're staffed and equipped to treat vascular conditions and diseases of all degrees, from poor circulation in your feet to blood clots in your arteries.

The array of services we offer means you won't have to travel to metropolitan hospitals for technical procedures, like off-pump coronary bypass surgery or lung biopsies.

Minimally invasive heart valve replacement surgery

Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center is the only hospital in the region offering minimally invasive heart valve replacements and repairs.

In traditional heart valve surgery, an incision is cut down the patient's chest, the length of the breastbone and recovery is about six to eight weeks with significant limitations on activities. However, during minimally invasive surgery, one or two small incisions measuring about only three to four inches are made aside the rib cage, and patients can be back to work as soon as a week without any lifting or driving restrictions.

Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR)

Patients with severe aortic stenosis (narrowing of the heart's aortic valve), who are not candidates for open heart surgery due to age or other complications, can now be treated with a transcatheter aortic valve replacement. Eastern Idaho Regional was among the first facilities in the state to offer TAVR.

TAVR is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that repairs a damaged valve without removing it. A team of heart surgeons and interventional cardiologists work together to place a collapsible artificial valve into the heart via a catheter. When in position, it expands and pushes the old valve leaflets out of the way, and the tissue in the replacement valve takes over the job of regulating blood flow.

The procedure was approved by the FDA in 2011, but only for patients who were too high risk for open-heart surgery. The FDA approved the procedure for moderate-risk patients in 2016.

Potential TAVR complications

TAVR is a significant procedure involving either general anesthesia or moderate sedation. The procedure has the potential for serious adverse effects, including risks of death, stroke, damage to the artery, major bleeding and other life-threatening events. In addition, the longevity of the valve's function is not yet known. For these reasons, the risks and benefits are carefully assessed by the TAVR team and valve clinic physicians, and then discussed with the patient so he or she can make an informed decision about the treatment plan.

TAVR information for physicians

If you have a patient with severe aortic stenosis that is not a good candidate for open-heart surgery, TAVR may be the right treatment option. We can help determine if your patient is a candidate, and we want you to be as involved as you would like to be in your patient's TAVR process. We invite you to participate in your patient's initial assessment, and be present during the team conference. We will provide detailed follow-up information and instructions after the surgery is completed.

Download the patient candidacy information.

Resources for cardiac patients

During heart surgery, we meet with the patient's family to answer questions and address concerns. We teach them about what we're doing and why we're doing it. When you are in our care, your family will never be at a loss for where to turn for support. They'll have their own personal envoy to lean on and to tell them what to expect next, someone they can call upon at any time of the day or night.

After surgery, we match patients and their families with volunteers (former cardiac patients) from our Heart Connection program for continued support.

Another group of former patients started a support program, the Committed Hearts. This non-profit organization helps provides support and resources to current cardiac patients.

When to call your doctor

After heart or vascular surgery, call your doctor or seek medical treatment if you have:

  • Any signs of infection, such as redness at the incision site or surrounding it, a yellow/green drainage from the incision or heat at the incision site
  • A fever higher than 101° Fahrenheit
  • Increased fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swollen ankles or weight gain greater than three pounds in 24 hours
  • A change in your heart beat
  • Dizziness
  • Any other unusual sign or symptom