The UCT Department of Anaesthesia at Groote Schuur Hospital and the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital provide a 24 hour dedicated anaesthesia service to the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery.

Although every medical student knows that Professor Christiaan Barnard performed the first heart transplant at Groote Schuur Hospital, Professor Ozinski was the first anaesthetist to anaesthetise a patient for a heart transplant.

We are proud to build on this unique foundation and today we provide an anaesthetic service for 300 adult cardiac and 300 paediatric cardiac cases per year.

Surgery includes complex paediatric cases, grown-up congenital heart disease, rheumatic heart disease, ischaemic heart disease, degenerative heart disease, minimally invasive repair and replacement of heart valves, trans-aortic valve replacements and transapical valve replacements (called TAVI’S) and heart transplants, in fact, the entire spectrum of cardiac surgery.

Exiting opportunities also exist for research into the development of less invasive procedures – a field that is of great relevance to the Third World.

We also work with cardiologists in the field of electrophysiology, pacemaker insertion and extraction.

Our head of department is a world authority on cardiac anaesthesia and we have a dedicated team of adult and paediatric anaesthetists who are skilled not only in cardiac anaesthesia but also in peri-operative echocardiography.

The anaesthetic department runs three "hands-on" trans-oesophageal echocardiography courses a year, an annual thoracic "hands-on course” as well as multiple "Point of Care"(focused assessed trans-thoracic echocardiography, or "FATE" courses) every year. We have a dedicated team who co-ordinate these courses. Within the department there is free access to a Heartworks Simulator as well as an extensive library and a data base of video clips of interesting cases.

In addition there are weekly tutorials addressing most aspects of cardiothoracic anaesthesia as well as echocardiography ward rounds that everyone is welcome to attend.

Trainees in our department spend three months in cardiothoracic canaesthesia and are also be exposed to major vascular surgery and many aspects of echocardiography. This is a challenging rotation, but all trainees enjoy it despite the long hours and difficult work.