Mr Franco Ciulli

Cardiothoracic surgeon in


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Professional statement

Mr Franco Ciulli is one of the UK's leading consultant cardiothoracic surgeons. He is based in Bristol and operates both at the Spire Hospital Bristol and the Bristol Heart Institute. He has performed over 5000 open heart procedures since being appointed as a consultant almost 30 years ago. Mr Ciulli has extensive experience in a vast range of adult cardiac conditions. He is an expert in minimally invasive cardiac surgery, coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG), beating heart surgery (OPCAB) and aortic valve surgery (AVR). He also has a specialist interest in arrhythmia surgery for Atrial Fibrillation  and mitral valve repair (MVR).

One of Mr Ciulli's main interests is coronary artery bypass surgery which amounts to 75% of his workload. This is mostly performed with an 'off-pump' or beating heart  technique that Mr Ciulli helped develop at the  Bristol Heart Institute. Mr Ciulli uses the latest techniques for mitral valve repair. He has vast experience in performing high risk and complex cases that have had had an over 98% survival rate after open-heart surgery. Mr Ciulli acquired much of his knowledge at prestigious centres across the globe in France, Italy, the UK and Australia.

Mr Ciulli is the head of cardiac surgery at the renowned Bristol Heart Institute. He is one of the most senior surgeons in the UK. After completing his medical degree, he undertook further training in cardiovascular surgery at the University of Verona in Italy. Mr Ciulli started working as a cardiothoracic registrar on the Glasgow rotation and the heart and lung transplant registrar at Papworth Hospital in 1990.

He later also undertook a transplant fellowship at St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney and was entered onto the GMC specialist register for thoracic and cardiac surgery in 1996. Mr Ciulli's first consultant position was in Sheffield in 1995. He went on to lead the team there that  performed the first heart-lung transplant and double lung transplant in 1997. Mr Ciulli also carried out the first minimally invasive mitral valve replacement in 1997 at the northern general hospital in Sheffield.

Since 1999 Mr Ciulli has worked as a consultant cardiothoracic surgeon at Bristol Heart Institute, which is part of the University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust. Mr Ciulli has held positions of clinical director, clinical governance lead, and is the clinical lead for the adult cardiac surgery unit. Mr Ciulli has been vital in helping bring modern mitral valve repair techniques to the Spire Hospital Bristol and Bristol Heart Institute. Mr Ciulli is an active researcher and has had work published in various peer-reviewed journals as well as the reputable textbook, Moghissi's Essentials of Thoracic and Cardiac Surgery, also coedited by Mr Ciulli.

Mr Franco Ciulli recently appeared in the film Deep in the Heart,documentary that follows four patients for several months as they undergo life-saving surgery at the Bristol Heart Institute. The open heart surgeries are actually performed by Mr. Ciulli. and Deep in the Heart can be found on Amazon Prime.

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Patients comments

I was a patient of Mister Ciulli in April 2021. I was referred for surgery to repair a heart valve prolapse. The lead up to surgery was difficult as the NHS was dealing with substantial cases of Covid and as a result surgery was being rescheduled as resources were tested. Mr. Ciulli made a point of discussing my surgery and difficulties in scheduling and contacted me directly to update me on progress and to check up on both my physical and emotional status. I was encouraged by his contact and obvious interest in me as a patient at a time when he was also under pressure due to the effects of the Covid pandemic. My operation was eventually carried out at the Bristol Spire Hospital as an NHS patient. My adsmission was the first time I had met with Mr. Ciulli and felt reassured by his interest and consideration for me. He went to great lengths to explain what was planned, the risks and, more importantly, the positive outcome I could expect from the operation. Although I knew that I needed to have this treatment to ensure a healthy future I was apprehensive about what was going to done to me. Mr. Ciulli’s manner showed empathy and professionalism which allayed much of the concern I had. I am here, on the mend and relieved that it is done. Now it’s up to me. I cannot judge his expertise as a surgeon as I was asleep when he did his best work but the results speak for themselves. I can ‘wholeheartedly’ say that he is a man I would put my trust in again without question. Thank you.

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