Our goal in both basic and applied research is to advance the medical specialty of cardiac surgery. The division is concerned with all aspects of this discipline from prevention to perioperative cardiac surgery to long-term results.

In connection with international cooperation, our research profile includes interdisciplinary collaboration with colleagues in other clinical areas as well as in basic research at the Medical University of Graz research centers.

    Main research areas


    Our research essentially focuses on current developments in cardiac surgery in the clinical area as well as in basic research.

    • Myocardial ischemia and perioperative myocardial protection
    • Improved therapy strategies for operative TAVR versus TAVI
    • Functional effects of antiarrhythmic agents on isolated human myocardium
    • Influence of COVID-19 convalescence on myocardial function
    • Measurement of extravascular pulmonary water with the Combyn ECG for cardiac surgery intensive care patients
    • Histological analysis of aortic aneurysms, dissections
    • Tissue engineering of vascular grafts
    • Platelet function after heart-lung machine treatment

    Current research projects

    Intracardiac functional diagnostics of lower body negative pressure (LBNP)

    • LBNP is a unique tool for examining the physiology of systemic compensation mechanisms in response to changed blood flow conditions, central volume depletion or a drop in blood pressure due to standing up after being seated or hemorrhagic shock. An experiment that employs a Millar system evaluates hemodynamic effects (wall stress, volume displacements, pressures in relation to change in volume) in the heart.
    • Period: Since 2020
    • Investigators: Heinrich Mächler, Birgit Zirngast; in cooperation with Nandu Goswami, Division of Physiology, Med Uni Graz

    Effect of thoracic endovascular aortic repair on proximal aortic tissue: Evaluation with MOCC perfusion

    • Aortic disease such as an aneurysm can lead to an increased risk for an aortic dissection, which is a life-threatening situation. Aortic aneurysms that have exceeded a certain size or are growing quickly must be stabilized. Stabilization can be achieved through a minimally invasive intervention (EVAR) involving a stent or an open surgical procedure. The effects of a stent on the surrounding aortic tissue are critical in order for this endovascular procedure to be safe, repeatable and capable of being carried out with great accuracy. The specific goal of this project is to investigate the aortic region during perfusion mechanically on human aortas using a MOCC system.
    • Period: Since 2019
    • Investigators: Heinrich Mächler, Christian Mayer; in cooperation with Gerhard A. Holzapfel, Institute of Biomechanics, TU Graz.

    Measurement of extravascular pulmonary water with the Combyn ECG

    • Extravascular pulmonary water or pulmonary edema refers to increased fluid accumulation in lung tissue. The fluid components of the blood, the blood plasma, extravasate from the blood vessels in the lung into the surrounding tissue (extravascular pulmonary edema). Following cardiac surgery, intensive care patients may develop pulmonary edema as a result of heart disease as well as the effects of the heart-lung machine. The Combyn ECG is compared to the PiCCO measurement.
    • Period: From spring 2021
    • Investigators: Heinrich Mächler and Nadezhda Marangozova in cooperation with Falko Skrabal, Institute of Cardiovascular Medicine, Graz

    Tissue engineering in porcine vessels for bypass graft harvesting

    • Coronary artery bypass graft (CABAG for short) surgery remains the most common heart surgery performed worldwide. There are several blood vessels that may be used as bypass grafts, yet each of them has its own disadvantages. The ideal vessel should permit sufficient blood flow, show no wear, be unsusceptible to embolism and be easy to handle surgically. For a long time, scientists have been attempting to achieve all these goals by creating tissue engineered grafts in the lab using diverse methods. One of these theories is concerned with the cellularization of previously decellularized tissue in order to obtain a suitable vascular replacement. The goal of this study is to generate an ideal method for decellularizing porcine vessels as carefully as possible with a porcine model so they can be used as the underlying framework for potential recellularization. This should be possible through investigations of the extracellular matrix as a stabilizing factor in normal blood vessels.
    • Period: Since 2018
    • Investigators: Clemens Neber, in cooperation with the Department of Cardiac Surgery, AKH Wien