John C. Brock, MD, FACS, is a board-certified cardiothoracic surgeon with Bayfront Health Medical Group Cardiovascular. In addition to cardiothoracic procedures, he has a special interest in thoracic surgery for lung cancer, esophageal surgery and screening and treating patients with lung disease using minimally invasive procedures.
What Does a Cardiothoracic Surgeon Do?
Dr. Brock is a highly skilled, board-certified cardiothoracic surgeon who treats complex heart and lung conditions. Using a range of advanced surgeries and other techniques, his goal is to return every patient to their best possible health. A few of the conditions he treats are:
- Complex lung and pleural diseases
- Lung cancer
- Aortic valve disease – occurs when the valve joining the left ventricle and aorta does not function properly.
- Coronary artery disease – the most common heart disease, which is caused by a build-up of plaque in the arteries, reducing the blood supply to the heart. This may result in chest pain or a heart attack.
- Mitral valve disease – the mitral valve regulates the flow of blood between the upper and lower chambers of the heart (left atrium and left ventricle). When the mitral valve does not perform as it should, blood may leak backwards or cause narrowing.
- Tricuspid valve disease – similar to mitral valve disease, however the right chambers of the heart (right atrium and right ventricle) are affected.
- Thoracic aortic aneurysms – this life threatening condition occurs when blood pumping through a weakened aorta causes the vessel to bulge and then rupture.
There are many cardiothoracic surgeries and procedures available to Dr. Brock to treat these serious diseases and conditions. Some include:
- Open ablation – several types of ablation are available to meet the varied needs of patients. In general, energy is used to create small scars on the heart to block abnormal electrical signals and restore normal heart rhythm.
- Carotid surgery – removes plaque build-up from the carotid artery in the neck to restore blood flow to the brain.
- Coronary artery bypass surgery – an open heart procedure, using arteries from another part of the body to "go around" or bypass the blocked portion of an artery, creating a new connection. This procedure is sometimes called heart bypass surgery. If the patient is exhibiting symptoms of low blood flow, this procedure may prevent stroke.
- Coronary stent – used during angioplasty to treat patients with the narrowed or blocked arteries or veins found in those with coronary artery disease, peripheral artery disease and carotid artery disease. A stent is an expandable mesh coil that is inserted into the surgically expanded artery to keep it open.
- Heart valve repair/replacement – whether a valve will be repaired or replaced can only be determined once surgery has started. Repair will help the valve work better post-surgery. Replacement means the diseased valve is removed and a new one inserted in its place.
- Open heart surgery – sometimes called traditional surgery, open heart surgery is performed on the arteries, valves and muscles of the heart. Some examples are heart failure, congenital heart defects, aneurysms and many more.
- Pacemaker – a small device implanted in the chest to help control the heart beat by delivering electrical impulses to the heart. A similar device is the implantable cardioverter defibrillator.
- Thoracic surgery - lung resections through robotic-assisted surgery and thoracoscopy esophageal resection and repair.
Cardiac Diagnostic Testing
Often patients are unware of an arterial blockage until they begin to experience a variety of symptoms ranging from leg pain to complete loss of circulation. Cardiac diagnostic testing is critical to swift, accurate identification of these blockages. Testing may include one or more of the following:
- Ankle-brachial index
- Blood pressure comparison of arms and legs
- Blood tests
- Blood vessel magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Electrocardiogram (ECG)
- Treadmill tests
Significant arterial blockages require the care of an experienced surgeon such as Dr. Brock. To restore blood flow to affected areas, he identifies the location of the blockage and perform the appropriate vascular surgical procedure. While many blockages can be treated with minimally invasive surgery, others require more complex procedures such as bypass surgery. Vascular procedures he performs include:
- AAA stenting
- Carotid endarterectomy
- Defibrillator implantation
- Dialysis access
- Endovascular intervention
- Pacemaker implantation
- Peripheral arterial vascular surgery
Minimally Invasive Surgery
Dr. Brock has experience and expertise in minimally invasive surgical procedures, including robotic-assisted surgery and endoscopic surgery. Robotic-assisted surgery enables him to magnify the surgical site up to ten times the normal size for greater accuracy. During endoscopic surgery he uses a tube-like surgical tool with a miniature camera and light on the end to see inside the body in "real time" and perform necessary procedures.
Minimally invasive surgery typically results in:
- Small incisions
- Less pain
- Low risk of infection
- Shorter hospital stays
- Quicker recovery time
- Less scarring
- Reduced blood loss
Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR)
A minimally invasive heart procedure Dr. Brock specializes in is transcatheter aortic valve replacement, known as TAVR, used to replace a narrowed aortic valve that is not functioning properly and fails to open. This procedure may be an option for those who are at high risk from an open heart procedure.
Dr. Brock’s Training
Dr. Brock graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in biology from Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, followed by post graduate studies at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he received a master’s degree in cell biology. He went on to earn his medical degree at the University of Florida in Gainesville, graduating in the top 15 percent of his class.
Postdoctoral studies include an internship and residency at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, followed by a fellowship in cardiothoracic surgery at the same institution and a fellowship in congenital heart reconstruction at Denver Children’s Hospital.
Dr. Brock also had the great opportunity and pleasure to train and then work with cardiac giant Michael DeBakey, MD, for a decade. Called "the greatest surgeon ever" by the American Medical Association in 2005, Dr. DeBakey pioneered dozens of cardiac procedures and the development of equipment such as the heart-lung machine.
About Dr. Brock
Dr. Brock is certified by the American Board of Thoracic Surgery, American Board of Surgery, and American Academy of Anti-aging and Rehabilitative Medicine. Additionally, he is a frequent invited speaker, and his work appears in numerous peer-reviewed publications.