Cardiothoracic Surgery


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).

Specialty Training Intake Guide - 2024 PDF | 1282.5 KB

Sub-specialty training

  • An adult cardiac specialist is expected to do a minimum of four years of adult cardiac surgery training and frequently undertake specialist training in areas such as mitral repair, aortic root surgery, minimally invasive surgery or hybrid procedures (TAVI, TEVR).
  • A thoracic specialist is expected to do a minimum of two years of adult thoracic training, which may include oesophageal surgery. Thoracic specialists frequently complete specialist training in thoracic oncology, video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) or robotics.
  • A transplantation specialist is expected to do a minimum of one year in thoracic organ transplantation and may focus on heart or lung transplantation, depending on other area of interest (thoracic or cardiac surgery).
  • Congenital cardiothoracic trainees are expected to spend a minimum of three years doing congenital cardiothoracic training. Often one to two of these years is completed after higher surgical training as a fellow.

Adult cardiothoracic surgery is performed at:

The Heart and Lung Transplantation Programme and the Ventricular Assist Programme are delivered in the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital. All paediatric cardiothoracic surgery is performed in Children's Health Ireland (CHI) at Crumlin.

The various programmes report results to the Society of Cardiothoracic Surgery of Great Britain and Ireland (SCTS) and the National Institute for Cardiovascular Outcomes Research (NICOR), which compares the results with international units. The results are published annually.