The Department of Thoracic Anaesthesiology works in the field of anaesthesia and intensive care for patients treated in the Heart Centre, Rigshospitalet.

The department treats both children and adults in the full spectrum of our profession, including transplants of heart and lung, ECMO and artificial mechanical heart (Heartmate II). 

We are committed to helping patients through treatment with as little pain and discomfort as possible. We do our utmost to improve our patient’s health and comfort.

Each year the department performs 1,200 major classic thoracic operations, 1,100 heart operations and 2,000 minor procedures in general anaesthesia.

The department has five OR rooms for primary cardiac anaesthesia, two rooms for classic thoracic anaesthesia, and three rooms for percutaneous cardiac procedures, such as ablation, ICD, aortic valve, or mitral valve treatment. 

The department has 19 intensive care beds and seven medical beds with intensive anaesthetic service.

Jens Christian Nilsson
Head of Department
Section 4141 
Tel. +45 35 45 12 21

Charlotte Illum Petersen
Head Nurse
Section 4141
Tel. +45 35 45 12 06

Charlotte Blomberg
Afsnit 4141
Telefon: 35 45 05 73

The department has a broad research field, often with interdisciplinary clinical projects within the Heart Centre. Below are highlighted areas with ongoing research.

Measurement of cardiac output
New methods for cardiac output measurement are evaluated before implementation. We primarily focus on new, less invasive methods that can provide comparable information to current standards.

The use of a heart-lung machine
Cardiac surgery often necessitates the use of a heart-lung machine. Although the technology has improved significantly over the past decades, some associated complications remain, including postoperative organ failure. There is currently no evidence on the importance of pressure and flow during bypass and how these two components, separately and in conjunction, influence the risk of brain and kidney injury. These issues are investigated in both observational and randomized clinical trials.

Heart failure
Both right and left ventricular heart failure may occur in the postoperative period after cardiac surgery. The management of these clinical conditions, both in terms of diagnosis, monitoring, and treatment, will be explored in several research projects. In more severe forms of heart failure, the potential gain from providing mechanical support needs further clarification. Mechanical support can be offered both in heart and/or lung failure as a bridge to recovery or organ transplantation.

Haemostasis and transfusion
There are several studies indicating that the use of blood component therapy can result in increased morbidity. Cardiac surgery is one of the specialities with the greatest consumption of blood products compared to other surgical procedures. Within this research area, the main focus is on establishing well-defined transfusion limits as well as an individualized treatment algorithm to reduce the need for transfusion of blood products.

Treatment of delirium in the postoperative period currently lacks evidence of which drug(s) to prefer. The condition is extremely debilitating for the patient and often the cause of prolonged admission to the intensive care unit. Treatment with rapidly metabolized sedatives and opioids seems more attractive. A randomized clinical trial is planned to determine the superiority of one of these drugs.

The Department of Thoracic Anaesthesiology is responsible for anaesthesia for heart, lung, and oesophagus operations and the anaesthesia for minor procedures such as bronchoscopy. 

Giving anaesthesia to all ages from 0 to 100+ years and all weights from 0 to 150+ kg 

Leading a cardiothoracic intensive care department with 19 beds and 4,700 intensive care days per year. Treating all ages, sizes, and conditions in the cardiothoracic area. 

The perfusion team. This team performs standard perfusion and ECMO on adults with Medos Deltastream and Levtronic when necessary. The perfusion team also handles neonatal ECMO in close corporation with the general neonatal intensive ward.

Active in airway management both in teaching (Rigshospitalet’s airway management course) and in the industrial development team at AMBU. ​

Department of Thoracic Anaesthesiology
Blegdamsvej 9
2100 Copenhagen Ø

Tel: +45 35 45 41 41