Cardiothoracic Surgery

About Us

This site has been created to inform intrerested parties, particularly medical students, about our Department. It has also been created to inform medical practitioners about many of the problems dealt with in our practice and so become a tool for education outside of our University commitment. We would be grateful for feedback on the site and for suggestions as to how it may be improved.

The Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, University of KwaZulu-Natal

This University Department provides the Provincial Cardiothoracic Surgical service for KwaZulu-Natal, Cape, one of the nine provinces of South Africa as well as the eastern portion of the Eastern Cape. This covers a combined population of over 10,000,000. Although Durban is the second largest city in the country, this province is predominantly rural. Large numbers of the population survive on subsistence farming. Durban is the largest port in Africa with a large industrial base. The department is situated at Inkhosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital with additional beds at King George V hospital. The department was started In Wentworth hospital and moved to IALCH on 12th July 2003.

Wentworth Hospital

Aerial Photograph of Wentworth Hospital where the department was housed untill July 2003

The patient population served by the department is largely indigent and underprivileged. In Thoracic Surgery the disease profile is of inflammatory lung disease, particularly the complications of Tuberculosis such as bronchiectasis and haemoptysis as well as empyema and HIV. There is a large amount of malignant disease, particularly oesophageal carcinoma which is treated at King George V Hospital and at King Edward VIII Hospital, referrals being on an alternate weekly basis. The department also deals with the complications of thoracic and oesophageal trauma on a tertiary referral basis. The incidence of HIV is at alarmingly high levels with an incidence approaching 30% in certain areas of the province. This has a significant effect on the work of the department.

The adult cardiac workload is equally split between ischaemic heart disease and valvular disease. Paediatric cardiac surgery is mainly for congenital work but there is also a significant amount of surgery for rheumatic valve disease. The department performed 644 open cardiac procedures in 1997, however this dropped due to budgetary constraints to 451 in 1998 and we were able to perform approximately 14-16 open heart cases per week again by 2000. In 2001 the Cardiac Theatres and Cardiac ICU Air-Conditioning and wiring were renewed. Despite this we were able to perform over 600 open and closed cardiac cases for the year using the Thoracic Theatre.

Since our move to Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital in 2003, we have been further able to increase adult cardiac surgery to over 600 cases per year by 2006 and with a constant number of operations for congenital heart disease staying at around 150.


There were 198 major thoracic surgical procedures performed in 2006 with a further 101 major procedured performed at King George V Hospital

The Departmental medical staff consists of 6 full-time and 3 part-time consultants, 7 registrars training in Cardiothoracic Surgery and a supernumary training registrar in post. There is also a rotating registrar from general Surgery There is a University secretary, a typist and a filing clerk working in the departmental offices between IALCH and King George V Hospital.

The Staff of King george V Hospital have moved to Wentworth for the next two years along with the KGV Thoracic Surgical Department while the reamining old wards and theatre are being replaced with modern wards and other facilities as part of the new Hospital complex that is being built on the Sydenham site

The Department also trains clinical technologists in the speciality of Perfusion. This is under the guidance of the M L Sultan Technicon, also situated in Durban. This is now completed by obtaining a degree in Clinical Technology (B.Tech) following an intial diploma. There are 8 qualified perfusionists.

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