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Inaugural lectures in cardiac and thoracic surgery

(Vienna, 28-05-2010) The 28 May 2010 will go down as the day of cardiac and thoracic surgery at MedUni Vienna: Univ. Prof. Dr. Günther Laufer and Univ. Prof. Dr. Walter Klepetko held their inaugural lectures before a packed lecture hall. At the same time this was also the official opening of the two independent Divisions of Cardiac Surgery and Thoracic Surgery.

"Breathless" – this was what Walter Klepetko called his inaugural lecture in thoracic surgery and also how he was lauded by Univ. Prof. Dr. Christian Herold. Under Klepetko the field of thoracic surgery has developed into an international reference centre for the treatment of many different complex thoracic diseases.  These include advanced lung tumours, lung metastases, invasive tumours, tracheal problems, many different forms of pulmonary emphysema and pulmonary hypertension. In the field of lung transplantation the Division, with around 100 transplants a year, is one of the leading institutions worldwide. Here, by establishing intensive cooperation projects with the neighbouring countries, it has managed to solve the problem of the serious lack of donor organs and guarantee unparalleled care for the Austrian population. Now more than 1000 lung transplants have been carried out in total at the Vienna General Hospital AKH.
As alternatives to transplantation, in recent years so-called volume reduction operations for pulmonary emphysema and also the removal of chronic thrombi from the pulmonary vessels have been developed. In these fields the Division is also one of the leading centres in the world.

"Panta rhei – Change in Cardiac Surgery": with this title Günther Laufer opened his inaugural lecture in cardiac surgery. In 2009 Laufer returned to MedUni Vienna, where he was the successor to Univ. Prof. emeritus Dr. Ernst Wolner. Laufer sees the challenges of cardiac surgery as optimising intensive aftercare following heart operations, which can be solved only with close coordination between MedUni Vienna and AKH. The intensive care aspect is part of a patient-oriented treatment path, which is planned to be included not only in adult heart surgery but also in paediatric heart surgery.

Much of the isolated heart valve surgery can now be carried out minimally invasively with a skin incision length similar to a pacemaker implantation. These surgical techniques need to be introduced as widely as possible into routine care. Targeted research needs to be carried out on this basis in order to develop these techniques further.

The current and also future developments in medical technology will increase the availability of implants and surgical techniques which are carried out together with an interventional cardiologist or radiologist. Here it is necessary to set up a hybrid operating room to be able to apply less invasive and traumatic procedures for the patient and to develop these further in close cooperation with the corresponding specialist areas.