New Director to Expand Capabilities of Aortic Surgery Program

Advancing the care of patients with aortic valve disease, aneurysms, and aortic dissection.

The largest blood vessel in the body, the aorta carries oxygen-rich blood away from the heart. It originates from the left ventricle and after rising upwards, curves down through the chest and extends into the abdomen, where it splits into two branches to supply blood to the legs.

Problems can occur in any portion along this vital artery. Some conditions progress in such a fashion that elective surgery can be carefully planned, while others present as sudden emergencies. Diseases of the heart can damage the aortic root, the part of the aorta directly attached to the heart, causing it to become narrowed (stenotic) or causing the root to stretch like a balloon (aneurysm). The aortic valve, located in the aortic root, can be damaged so that it restricts blood flow to the body or allows blood to flow in the wrong direction. Weakening of the vessel walls (aneurysms) can occur along any portion of the aorta as it ascends and descends in the chest (the thoracic aorta) or in the abdomen (abdominal aorta). The aorta may also tear (called a dissection), which is a life-threatening emergency.

Consistently listed among the top five programs in the nation for cardiac surgery, NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia offers the most advanced treatment available for all forms of aortic valve disease, aneurysms, and aortic dissection. While open surgery was once required for any treatment, today many procedures can be done using minimally invasive methods. Some, such as replacement of the aortic valve, can be performed through catheters that are threaded through small incisions in the groin (known as transcatheter or percutaneous procedures). The Division of Cardiac Surgery is at the forefront of such innovations internationally; our faculty serve as Principal Investigators of landmark studies such as the PARTNER trial, and our faculty have pioneered the development of new minimally invasive ‘hybrid’ procedures that combine the advantages of catheter-based interventions with traditional approaches.

Michael Borger, MD, PhD, Director, Cardiovascular Institute; Director, Aortic SurgeryNow, the capabilities of the Aortic Surgery program are expanding further under the leadership of its new director, Michael Borger, MD, PhD, Director of the Cardiovascular Institute and Director of Aortic Surgery as of August 1, 2014. Dr. Borger is an internationally recognized cardiothoracic surgeon with expertise in complex aortic surgery, including aortic root and arch replacement and procedures to replace the aortic root while preserving the native valve. His expertise also includes minimally invasive and percutaneous valve procedures, valve repair surgery, and treatment of ischemic mitral regurgitation.

According to Dr. Borger, “My areas of clinical and research expertise, aortic valve repair and complex aortic surgery, will complement and enhance the Division’s current capabilities. As Director of the Cardiovascular Institute, I will be focusing on strengthening our clinical and research capabilities in aortic and peripheral vascular disease. In addition, I come from a center that has performed more minimally invasive mitral valve repair operations than anywhere else in the world. I hope to further contribute to Columbia’s long history of minimally invasive cardiac surgery in this regard.”

Regarding research, Dr. Borger is primarily interested in outcomes research of aortic disease, heart valve repair, ischemic mitral regurgitation, and minimally invasive surgery.

A native of Canada, Dr. Borger received his cardiothoracic surgical training and PhD degree at the University of Toronto in 2001, and completed an additional fellowship at the Leipzig Heart Center under the supervision of Dr. Fred Mohr in 2002. He subsequently took a position as staff surgeon at Toronto General Hospital, working under the mentorship of Dr. Tirone David, and then in Leipzig, Germany, where he was named Associate Director of the Leipzig Heart Center in 2009. He became Director of the Cardiovascular Institute and Director of Aortic Surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia August 1, 2014.

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