World-renowned minimally invasive cardiothoracic surgeon joins staff at Texas Heart Institute

Dr. Joseph Lamelas is the most experienced minimally invasive heart valve surgeon in the world, and this month he joined the ranks of other internationally recognized cardiovascular specialists as a member of Texas Heart Institute’s (THI) professional staff.

“Dr. Lamelas has dedicated his career to improving the field of minimally invasive cardiac surgery – a vocation that perfectly aligns with the mission and purpose of the Texas Heart Institute,” said Dr. James T. Willerson, president at Texas Heart Institute. “The expertise he has developed in this specialized field will not only benefit patients here in the Texas Medical Center, but will also help patients across the globe as he continues to advance the field and train surgeons in these life-saving techniques.

Lamelas, who has completed more than 14,000 cardiac operations and 5,000 minimally invasive surgeries, joined Baylor College of Medicine as the associate chief of cardiac surgery in the division of cardiothoracic surgery and will conduct surgeries at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center, part of CHI St. Luke’s Health. Over the course of his career, he has simplified the concepts and techniques associated with minimally invasive operations and made them more reproducible and, most importantly, safer for patients.

“The minimally invasive techniques developed by Dr. Lamelas have opened doors for patients who previously did not have many options to consider,” said Dr. Todd K. Rosengart, professor and DeBakey-Bard Chair of Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine. “Having the physician who created these very techniques right here in the Texas Medical Center as part of the Baylor College of Medicine and THI family is a great asset to the Houston

Though minimally invasive cardiac surgery is considered a specialized field, Lamelas’ techniques have enabled minimally invasive approaches to apply to multiple scenarios where they couldn’t before. Everything from repairing simple congenital cardiac defects, removing cardiac tumors, aortic valve surgery, mitral valve surgery, double and triple valve surgery, to replacing the ascending aorta can be done without splitting the sternum due to the techniques he pioneered.

Additionally, there are very few exclusion criteria for this particular operations. Meaning patients displaying common risk factors – such as age and bad heart function – can still be candidates for his approach.

“Partnering with these institutions to build on the legacy left by Dr. Cooley and other pioneers is an honor,” said Lamelas. “I am proud to continue my own legacy and passion for advancing the field here in Houston, with the ultimate goal of building a world-renowned reference center for minimally invasive cardiac surgery in the Texas Medical Center.”

“We are very pleased that Dr. Lamelas has chosen the Texas Heart Institute and Baylor College of Medicine in Houston to continue his pioneering work. We look forward to working closely with him.”

James T. Willerson, MD
President, Texas Heart Institute

Todd K. Rosengart, MD
Professor and DeBakey-Bard Chair of Surgery Baylor College of Medicine