Advances in Heart Surgery


By Karen Antonacci

The Rio Grande Valley needs to be in the forefront of contemporary medicine, according to Dr. Daniel Martinez M.D., board certified cardiothoracic surgeon in Harlingen.  “As physicians and surgeons in the Rio Grande Valley, we have an obligation and responsibility to provide our community with the best comprehensive patient centered care.”

“Our goal as physicians should be to eliminate the need for our patients to travel outside of the Valley for contemporary medical treatment.”

“I’m a native from here, and I want to provide the latest cardiac surgical treatment options for people here in the Valley,” Dr. Martinez said.  “There’s no real reason for them to travel outside of the Valley for treatment they can get here.”

Dr. Daniel Martinez MD

Dr. Martinez has been a leader in the Valley in bringing Minimally Invasive Cardiac Surgery (MICS) procedures, thus avoiding the traditional surgical approach.  Dr. Martinez explained that the traditional method for replacing or repairing a heart valve in a patient involves splitting the sternum, or the breastbone, to expose the heart.

“When we split the sternum, it can be very traumatic, especially for older folks, because it will take them much longer to recover and heal,”

However, the minimally invasive procedure that Dr. Martinez is utilizing does not require going through the sternum to access the heart.  Instead, he uses specialized instruments to go through the ribs.

“So far the minimally invasive procedure has been associated with faster recovery times, patients complaining less of pain, and cosmetic results are exceptional, so we’re very happy with the results,” according to Dr. Martinez.

A native of Pharr, he graduated from PSJA in 1985 before going on to attend then-Pan American University (PAU).  After graduating cum laude from PAU, he went to the University of Iowa Roy J and Lucille A Carver College of Medicine and graduated in 1993.  He completed his general surgery residency in 1999 at Louisiana State University Health Science Center (LSUHSC) in Shreveport, Louisiana.  He went on to complete his cardiothoracic surgical training at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina in 2001.  Dr. Martinez held academic positions at LSUHSC and the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio (UTHSCSA) prior to relocating to Harlingen.

Upon returning to the Valley in 2007, he set up his surgical practice, RGV Heart Surgeons (RGVHS), in Harlingen.  RGVHS provides surgical services ranging from heart valve surgery, lung surgery, coronary artery bypass grafting, heart failure surgery, and arrhythmia surgery.

Dr. Martinez usually sees patients on a referral basis from their cardiologists or primary care physicians.  Although he is not a hospital employee, Dr. Martinez has a close working relationship with the area hospitals where he performs his surgeries.  Recently, Dr. Martinez and his heart team received the highest rating of three stars from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) for outstanding results in coronary artery bypass grafting procedures in one of the local hospitals in the area.  Very few programs in the country achieve this award.

“This STS database includes over three million medical records from national and international medical centers that voluntarily submit their results to this database,” Dr. Martinez stated.  “All of our surgical procedures are submitted to this database and compared to other programs.  It is a very comprehensive database that takes into account not only outcomes, but also other measures such as blood utilization and perioperative medications.”

Dr. Martinez takes pride in his achieved goals and hopes it drives home the point that excellent medical care and innovative procedures can be found in the Rio Grande Valley.

Patients are encouraged to visit the RGV Heart Surgeons website at  Dr. Martinez said he is available always for appointments and second opinions.  Their office is located at 618 Maco Dr. in Harlingen. Patients can call the office at (956) 425-0111, or email