Christ Hospital Utilizes Cutting-Edge, Minimally - Invasive Valve and Aneurysm Procedures

Pictured from Left: Dr. Jeffrey Griffin, Dr. Mario Castillo-Sang & Dr. Geoff Answini

Photo by Tracy Doyle


At The Christ Hospital it is a most exciting time for heart care. Never before have so many therapies been available to patients, including novel treatments for aortic aneurysms, minimally invasive mitral valve procedures and more. According to Dr. Geoff Answini, surgical director and thoracic & cardiac surgeon specialist at Christ, the hospital offers the full gamut of cardiac surgery – from coronary bypass, aortic and mitral valve surgeries to complex repeat open-heart surgeries as well as mechanical assist devices for heart failure patients. The Christ Hospital also offers a broad selection of treatments for thoracic aortic disease, including aneurysms involving the aortic root, ascending aorta, aortic arch and descending thoracic and abdominal aneurysms, as well as aortic dissections.


“We have specific areas of expertise” says Answini. For example, Dr. Mario Castillo-Sang specializes in mitral valve surgeries and left ventricular assist devices for chronic heart failure patients. Dr. Jeffrey Griffin specializes in bypass surgeries and Dr. Answini is expert at aortic valve surgeries, aortic dissections and aneurysms. Many of our valve procedures are performed using a ‘minimally invasive’ approach.”

Minimally invasive surgery involves performing the entire open-heart operation through a 2-inch incision in the right chest and a 1-inch incision in the groin rather than the traditional sternotomy where surgeons cut through the breastbone. This translates into a more comfortable, rapid recovery for the patient. Although few medical centers around the country have the expertise to routinely perform minimally invasive heart surgeries, over the past five to seven years, they have become routine at The Christ Hospital. In Castillo-Sang’s view, this is the future for surgical treatment of aortic and mitral disease.

According to Castillo-Sang, the average cardiac surgeon in the United States performs between 5-10 mitral valve operations a year. This year, The Christ Hospital is on target to surpass 70.

“Our goal has been to become a destination for cutting-edge therapy and world-class healthcare,” says Answini, who is an advisor to Medtronic for the development of a novel stent-graft device to treat complex aneurysms of the thoracic and abdominal aorta that have traditionally required extensive surgeries. The Christ Hospital is one of only four sites in the world that’s working with Medtronic on this groundbreaking technology, and so far, Answini and his team have implanted a half dozen devices in patients with good results.

“We can probably fix over 90 percent of all aneurysms and dissections of the aorta,” says Answini. “The vast majority of these can be treated endovascularly, without major open surgery, through a small incision in the groin and arm. In the past, we would have had to open the patient up from the chest to the pelvic bone, so we’ve come a long way.”

Minimally invasive techniques allow many patients who are poor candidates for traditional open-heart surgery to benefit from a less traumatic surgical procedure.

“Nothing’s worse from a doctor’s perspective than having to look a patient in the eye and tell them we have nothing to offer them,” says Castillo-Sang. “Now, with minimally invasive techniques, almost everyone is a surgical candidate.”

Patients appreciate the shorter hospital stay and recovery times and often return to work within a couple of weeks.

The best options for surgical care compliment the fact that The Christ Hospital is also the only center in the region to offer catheter-based treatments to repair or replace the Mitral valve, as well as minimally invasive surgical approaches to fix or replace the valve.

“We truly are the only program in the region that offers the full gamut of what’s available to treat the mitral valve,” says Castillo-Sang.

The Christ Hospital has assembled a tremendous team of surgeons, operating room nurses, techs and perfusionists available “on-site, 24-7-365,” says Answini.


The Christ Hospital is located at 2139 Auburn Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45219. For more information or to schedule an initial consultation or second opinion appointment, call 513.206.1170 or visit