In 1955, Dr. Henry Beecher recognized that the days of open-heart surgery at the Massachusetts General Hospital were upon us. He assigned Drs. Thorkild Andersen, Henrik Bendixen, and William Brewster to develop an anesthesia program to treat these complicated patients in the early days of surgery of the heart. In 1969, the increased clinical obligations of the small group of anesthesiologists devoted to cardiac surgery resulted in the formation of the Mass General Cardiac Anesthesia Group (CAG) under the guidance of Dr. Edward Lowenstein.
Since then, many of the finest anesthesiologists and surgeons have treated patients referred from the most notable names in cardiology. Dr. Lowenstein, Dr. Daniel Phildin, Dr. Michael D’Ambra, Dr. Scott Streckenbach, and Dr. Edwin G. Avery IV have led this fine group of anesthesiologists and the trainees who study under them. Notable contributions by members of the CAG include Dr. Mike Laver’s work in blood conservation and hemodilution, Dr. Edward Lowenstein’s work in opioid anesthesia, Dr. Nathaniel Sims’ development of safe transport monitors and infusion devices, and Dr. Greg Koski’s work studying the detrimental effects of calcium administration.
The role of the Mass General CAG continues to expand. Currently, nearly 1200 open and closed cardiac surgical cases occur each year. The CAG covers all types of procedures to include revascularization, valve repair and replacement, major thoracic aorta procedures, treatment of adult congenital heart disease, heart transplantation, and ventricular assist device placement. The role of the CAG expands outside of the operating room and includes the provision of anesthesia for electrophysiology studies and therapy, percutaneous closures of atrial defects, and anesthesia for transesophageal echocardiography.
The Mass General Heart Center was created to develop a team approach to the care of patients with disease of the heart. This combined approach involving the centers for Transplantation, Thoracic Aortic Disease, Coronary Artery Disease, Congenital Heart Disease, Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, and Preventative Cardiology works to improve care and communication among all specialties including cardiac anesthesia in the care of the individual patient. This effort will continue to maintain the Massachusetts General Hospital as a leader in cardiology, surgery, and medicine.
Cardiac Anesthesia Fellowship