The History

Sometimes we forget that the fields of cardiac surgery and cardiac anesthesia are young-their evolutions have occurred over the past 54 years. Most of the important advances in this specialty have been within the lifetimes of currently practicing physicians.

Dr. Russell C. Brock said that cardiac surgery is “not for the lone operator….Teamwork is essential in the operating theatre, where in addition to the surgical and nursing assistants, the anesthetist [sic] plays a part of fundamental importance which deserves a special tribute” (chronicled by: Fawzy G. Estafanous, M.D., Cardiac Anesthesia, 2001:16-17).

Cardiovascular anesthesiologists step in at one of the most stressful times of a patient’s life. They must have knowledge of current protocol and ultimately flawless execution of both the science and art of critical cardiac medicine. Staying current in these skills requires continuing education and research.


The granting of professional status to medicine by society at large entails obligations by physicians. Those physicians in the young subspecialty of cardiac anesthesiology have fulfilled these obligations by developing a body of scientific and clinical knowledge and the technical bases to increase survival and decrease morbidity of patients…they have contributed effectively to the broad practice of medicine.

–Edward Lowenstein, MD. Anesthesia & Analgesia, 2004;98:927-34.

Six years after the inception of the membership restricted Association of Cardiac Anesthesiologists, Drs. Robert Marino, George Burgess, and Martin Peuler founded the Society of Cardiovascular Anesthesiologists as an inclusive, international society with unlimited membership. The SCA promotes excellence in clinical care, education, and research for the subspecialty of cardiovascular anesthesiology. SCA leaders have headed anesthesiology departments, medical schools and hospitals.

The Society’s goals include:

  • improving survival of cardiac surgical patients;
  • reducing life-altering complications from cardiac, vascular and thoracic surgery, thereby improving the quality of postoperative life;
  • establishing a scientific and technical foundation to reduce morbidity and mortality for noncardiac surgery patients; and,
  • advancing the broader field of anesthesiology.

The SCA is an international society. While most members live in North America and many activities occur on this continent, nearly 20% of the members (excluding residents) live outside the United States, and 14% live outside of North America.

In order to help in raising funds for their programming, the SCA Board of Directors created the SCA Foundation. Working together on common missions allows the SCA and the SCA Foundation to build upon the successes of the SCA and raise money and awareness for this sub-specialty.