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Capital & Coast DHB Cardiothoracic Service

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Cardiothoracic Services

The Wellington Regional Heart & Lung Unit is based on Ward 6 South of the Wellington Regional Hospital. Take the Level 2 orange lift to Level 6. 

Oupatient services such as clinics are held in the Clinical Measurement Unit located on the ground floor of the Wellington Regional Hospital opposite the hospital reception. If you have arrived via the underground carpark, take the elevator to Level 2 and reception.

 The Cardiothoracic Service provides care for patients with cardiac and thoracic health problems. The Wellington region covers Wellington city, Porirua Basin and Kapiti Coast. As a "Tertiary service" referrals are accepted from the Hutt Valley, Manawatu, Wairarapa, Wanganui, Hawkes Bay and the Nelson–Marlborough district. 

The Cardiothoracic Department includes:

  • Inpatient beds on 6 South - a ward that also accommodates cardiology inpatients
  • Two operating theatres allocated specifically for cardiothoracic operations
  • Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds, routinely occupied by cardiac patients postoperatively
  • "Step Down Unit" beds, to receive patients postoperatively from theatre and ICU, and patients requiring more observation or assistance than in the normal ward areas
  • Outpatient clinics, held in the Clinical Measurement Unit (CMU) located on the ground floor opposite the hospital reception.

The Cardiothoracic Department provides an acute and elective surgical service including:

Cardiac Surgery

  • Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery (often shortened to "CABG"  and sometimes pronounced "cabbage")
  • Valve surgery
  • MAZE Procedure - surgery intended to treat a form of irregular heart beat known as Atrial Fibrillation or AF
  • Aortic aneurysms and dissections (thoracic aorta only, abdominal aortic surgery is carried out by the Vascular Surgery Department)

Thoracic Surgery

  • Partial/complete lung resections - removal of lung tissue often for treatment or diagnosis of tumours
  • Management of complications involving the pleura (the cavity that sourronds the lung), such as pneumothorax ("collapsed lung"), effusion (fluid in the pleural cavity), or empyema (pus from infection)
  • NUSS procedures - a surgical treatment for sunken chest
  • Chest trauma - e.g. fractured ribs or sternum following a fall or accident
  • Mediastinal investigation and surgery

Most paediatric surgery and cases for cardiac transplantation are referred to Auckland.

In the Cardiothoracic area we aim to deliver excellent quality of care to patients of all ages and cultures and support them to reach their full potential in health so they can live independently in the community. This is achieved through a partnership of care, support and shared responsibility.

There is a multi-disciplinary team that work together with a high priority on assisting patients to have a positive experience during their time in the cardiothoracic area, this includes dieticians, social workers, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, specialist nurses and Maori and Pacific support services.


Referral Expectations

Referrals may be acute (emergency or semi-emergency) or elective (planned).

Patients are not placed onto a "waiting list" until completion of all the investigations that are necessary for the operation to be performed. Cardiac patients often need to have angiograms, heart scans and dental treatment. This is all carried out under the care of a cardiologist. Thoracic patients may require scans and lung tests.

Referrals to the Cardiothoracic service come from several sources.

Patients requiring heart surgery such as CABG or valve operations are referred by Cardiologists. Usually the Cardiothoracic service refers patients back to their Cardiologist for ongoing input some time after the operation.

Patients requiring treament of diseases of the pleural cavity are referred from other departments and hospitals and either discharged home or referred afterwards.

Patients requiring surgical resection of lung tissue may be referred by respiratory doctors.

Procedures / Treatments

  • Blood Tests

    Blood tests are carried out before and after cardiothoracic operations. They measure such things as how the kidneys are working, cardiac markers (to make sure the heart is healthy) and levels of potassium (K+) and calcium (Ca++) as well as other elements.… More

  • Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery (CABG)

    Patients with coronary artery disease can have arteries that are blocked or narrowed, meaning blood flow to parts of the heart is poor or non-existent.… More

  • Heart Valve Surgery

    The heart has four major valves that act like gates to allow blood to flow in the correct direction.… More

  • Aortic Aneurysm Repair

    An aneurysm is a weakness in the wall of a vessel that can cause a large bulging area.… More

  • Wedge Resection

    This involves the removal of a small, localised area of diseased lung tissue such as a tumour from near the surface of the lung.… More

  • Segmental Resection

    The removal of one or more lung segments (a bronchiole and its aveoli) when the disorder is limited to one or more segments.… More

  • Lobectomy

    Removal of the entire lobe of a lung when there is e.g.… More

  • Pneumonectomy

    Removal of an entire lung, e.g . in the presence of bronchogenic cancer.… More

  • Decortication

    Removal or the stripping off of a thick fibrous membrane (scar tissue) that develops over the pleura.… More

  • Thoracotomy

    A thoracotomy is a surgical incision made in order to access the inside of the chest.… More

  • VATS (Video Assisted Thorascopic Surgery)

    VATS is a method of accessing the chest using small incisions instead of a thoracotomy.… More

  • Sternotomy

    A sternotomy, or "median" sternotomy, is a surgical incision along the front of the sternum.… More

  • Nuss bar procedure

    A Nuss bar procedure is used to treat pectus excavatum ("sunken chest"), usually on teenagers or young adults.… More

  • Bentall's procedure

    Bentall's is a type of heart operation whereby the aortic valve is replaced along with the aortic root and ascending aorta (the beginning of the large blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the body).… More

  • Chest drainage

    Chest drains (also known as intercostal drains or chest tubes) are used frequently in the cardiothoracic service.… More

  • Pleurodesis

    The lungs are surrounded by membranes called pleura. A pleurodesis involves adhering the inner and out pleura of a lung together.… More

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Visiting Hours

Visiting on ward 6 South - The Wellington Regional Heart & Lung Unit is the same as the general ward areas of Wellington Hospital:

10 am- 1 pm and 3 pm - 8 pm

The time between one o'clock and three o'clock is a dedicated patient rest period. Effective rest is essential for healing and patients are often very tired due to the effects of an operation and the work they have to do to recover.

Patients who are able to walk around unaided and do not require specific observation by nurses may be able to have visitors outside of these hours by using the communal areas such as the television lounge or whanau rooms.

We usually recommend visitor numbers are restricted to two visitors per patient at any one time. This is to allow enough room for staff to carry out important tasks (including responding to emergencies), to help reduce noise levels on the ward, and because it can often be overwhelming and tiring for patients to have large amounts of people around if they have recently had an operation or illness. Larger groups are welcome to use the communal areas of the ward and take it in turns to visit.

Sometimes there are arrangements for immediate family to visit earlier in the morning specifically to be able to meet the surgeons on the ward round. After the ward round the surgeons are generally performing operations and therefore not able to see patient's family. The ward doctors and nurses are able to discuss patient care and answer any queries.

We discourage flowers at patients' bedsides. Flower pollen and the organisms present in vase water may contribute towards chest problems. There is often a lot of electrical monitoring equipment around the "high dependency" bedspaces which leaves few surfaces suitable for safely housing vases.

Where possible flowers are kept on the window sills of the main corridors of the ward with the patients names on.


For information about refreshments, public transport, parking, accommodation, pharmacy, security, charges etc at Wellington Hospital please click on the link Wellington Hospital.

Contact Details

If you are a patient on the Cardiothoracic surgery waiting list then you will have already been supplied with the contact number for the Cardiac Liaison Nurse.

For inpatient services:
Ward 6 South telephone number is (04) 806 0650
Ward 6 South Fax number is (04) 806 0651

Wellington Regional Heart & Lung Unit
Te Ratonga Whatumanawa me te Pukapuka ā rohe
Ward 6 South
Wellington Hospital
Riddiford Street

Clinical Measurement Unit (CMU)
Ground Floor
Wellington Hospital
Riddiford Street

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Street Address

Wellington Regional Heart & Lung Unit
Te Ratonga Whatumanawa me te Pukapuka ā rohe
Ward 6 South
Wellington Hospital
Riddiford Street

Clinical Measurement Unit (CMU)
Ground Floor
Wellington Hospital
Riddiford Street

Postal Address

Wellington Hospital
Private Bag 7902
Wellington South

This page was last updated at 12:42PM on July 4, 2018. This information is reviewed and edited by Capital & Coast DHB Cardiothoracic Service.