How is a cardiothoracic surgeon different from a cardiologist or pulmonologist?

A cardiologist will primarily diagnose disorders of the heart and treat them with medication. Cardiologists also perform interventions on the arteries in the heart working through puncture wounds in the groin, but they do not do open surgery.

A pulmonologist will diagnose disorders of the lung and treat them with medication. Some pulmonologists will perform interventions through the airway such as bronchoscopy to diagnose some disorders but again, they do not perform open surgery.

When should I see a Thoracic Surgeon?

Your primary care physician, cardiologist, pulmonologist, or general practitioner may send you to a thoracic surgeon if he/she feels that you could benefit from an operation to treat a condition involving the heart, lungs, esophagus, mediastinum, or chest wall.

What can I expect on my first visit?

  • You will undergo an evaluation which will include an interview and physical examination by the cardiothoracic surgeon
  • You may have the following tests requested, echocardiograms, X-rays or CT scans, the surgeon will then review the images and reports.
  • He will then make a recommendation for the next step in your evaluation and treatment which may include possible surgery, additional testing, or observing your condition over time.


A cardiothoracic surgeon is a specialist medical doctor who performs operations on the heart, lungs, esophagus, and other organs in the chest. Dr Lehlohonolo Dongo's Qualifications.


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