Cardiothoracic surgery involves the surgical treatment of diseases affecting organs inside the thorax – generally conditions of the heart and lungs. Cardiothoracic surgeons also undertake training in the management of chest wall and oesophageal pathologies.
Cardiothoracic surgery trainees undertake a six-year Specialty Training programme (ST3 - ST8). During this period, you will be expected to spend some time in each of the six approved public cardiothoracic surgical units to acquire a rounded knowledge of the specialty. At a minimum, you will spend three years doing adult cardiac surgery; six months doing thoracic surgery; and six months in paediatric cardiothoracic surgery.
Currently, there are no sub-specialty divisions on the Irish Medical Council cardiothoracic register, however, in other jurisdictions, such as the UK, trainees can work towards sub-specialist recognition (i.e. congenital or thoracic). In Ireland, at present most consultant cardiothoracic surgeons have a specialist interest (adult cardiac, adult thoracic, congenital or transplantation) and they may practice across the sub-specialities. In recent years some consultants have been appointed into single sub-speciality clinical practice (i.e. thoracic surgery).