About Dr. Vaughn Starnes,
Heart Valve Surgeon
Hello! My name is Dr. Vaughn Starnes and I am a cardiac surgeon having graduated from North Carolina (Chapel Hill) in 1977. To date, I have performed approximately 12,000 cardiac surgeries, of which 4,000 involved heart valve procedures. I regularly perform surgery at hospitals including USC Cardiac and Vascular Institute and Children's Hospital of Los Angeles. Read more...
I believe my greatest strength is twenty-five years experience operating on both children and adults. I feel fortunate to be gifted with the ability to carry-out extremely complex operations with relative ease. I also have a strong research and teaching interest and commitment to furthering USC's cardiac surgery discipline - specifically in areas of minimally invasive valve surgery, aortic valve surgery and congenital heart disease.
89 Patient Reviews for
"Thanks goes to Dr. Starnes for a successful mitral valve repair surgery at the right time!"
-- Debby Tomlinson, heart valve surgery patient
"Dr. Starnes saved my life. My daughter sent him all the information and tests from my first open heart surgery. He knew exactly how to fix my heart. He was professional, kind and caring. Thanks to his brilliance, I have a future. He welcomed questions and followed my care after surgery in the hospital. Truly, I consider him to be the best surgeon in the world!"
-- Sharon Orr, Mitral Valve, Tricuspid Valve, Valve Replacement, 11/09/2021
-- Darlene Keast, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, 10/22/2021
-- Tina Fuentes, Mitral Valve, Valve Replacement, Bloodless Surgery, 10/01/2021
-- James Mandala, Aortic Valve, Mitral Valve, Tricuspid Valve, Valve Repair, Valve Replacement, Root Replacement, 07/28/2021
-- Pamela Sainsbury, Aortic Valve, Mitral Valve, Tricuspid Valve, Valve Repair, Valve Replacement, 05/25/2021
-- Jeff Chang, Aortic Valve, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, Valve Replacement, Median Sternotomy, 04/28/2021
-- Dennis Van Daalwyk, Aortic Valve, Valve Replacement, 04/14/2021
-- Lawrence Wallace, Aortic Valve, Valve Replacement, Median Sternotomy, Root Replacement, 03/23/2021
-- Cheryl Samperio, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, 12/15/2020
-- Michael Mahoney, Aortic Valve, Valve Replacement, Median Sternotomy, 11/11/2020
Dr. Starnes performed a minimally invasive surgery so that afterwards I had almost no pain. I was in intensive care one day, then transferred to a telemetry ward for another five days; so exactly a week in total. The staff at USC Keck Hospital was outstanding in every way: extremely competent, caring, and yet professional. I always felt I was in excellent hands.
Dr. Starnes is the model of what a surgeon should be: confident, empathetic, available. He is always willing to spend whatever time is necessary to answer all questions. During my recovery in the hospital, he visited me personally several times and was always genuinely concerned for my health and general well-being. His staff reveres him.
He also did his best to communicate with my husband who was understandably concerned. Immediately after my surgery was finished, Dr. Starnes personally phoned my husband to explain that all had gone well. Not only that, but during my surgery, an OR nurse on his team phoned my husband from the operating room to update him on the progress of the surgery. Then after surgery, one of his doctor assistants phoned my husband to inform him that I was safely in ICU.
I cannot recommend Dr. Starnes and his team too highly. I hope you are fortunate enough to have him as your surgeon."
-- Kirkley Wilson, Mitral Valve, Valve Replacement, 11/03/2020
He made me feel very confident at our very first consultation and he didn't disappoint. I can't thank him enough for his superior skills. Again, I feel SO lucky and grateful. And his entire staff, including Bob Sachs, his PA, are all great. I had a great experience at Keck Hospital and office visits."
-- Patricia Del Papa, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, 10/21/2020
Dr. Starnes examined my Daughter and determined that he would perform a Ross Procedure. P.A. Sachs and Dr. Starnes explained the surgery procedure with great detail and empathy. They both referred his staff to assist us with looking for a place to stay since we were out of state. The office staff was helpful and thorough in handling all of our arrangements.
My Wife and I were nervous as any parent would be. However, the procedure was flawless and went exactly how Dr. Starnes said it would. After the surgery we visited the office for the follow-up visit and P.A. Sachs went out of his way to accommodate us in every way possible.
For anyone who has to have any type of cardio procedure and is not sure where to go...please schedule an appointment with Dr. Starnes and P.A. Sachs. Meet with them and I can assure you that you will be making the perfect choice. Thank You Dr. Starnes and P.A. Sachs for taking such good care of our Daughter and to your staff, specifically Tiffany, for assisting us with everything."
-- Gabe Munoz, Aortic Valve, Ross Procedure, 10/07/2020
-- Amelia Perez, Aortic Valve, Valve Replacement, Median Sternotomy, Bloodless Surgery, 09/30/2020
I immediately knew that I wanted Dr. Starnes to be my surgeon. He was very caring and attentive. Dr. Starnes and his physician's assistant, Bob, explained all treatment options to my husband and I and took their time to answer all of our questions. I was also given the most options by Dr. Starnes because of his broad experience.
I thank God for directing me to him. Days and nights of prayer were answered.
On August 28, 2020 Dr. Starnes and his team performed a Ross procedure on me successfully. I had surgery on a Friday and went home on a Tuesday.
I highly recommend Dr. Starnes because of his top notch skills, experience, and caring attitude. The USC Keck cardiac team have exceeded my expectations. His office employees and hospital employees took excellent care of me from day one."
-- Alejandra Gutierrez, Aortic Valve, Ross Procedure, 08/28/2020
Not only did Dr. Starnes repair my mitral valve regurgitation, he did the same for my father 3 years ago. On August 7th after a routine visit to my cardiologist, I was told that the regurgitation from torn cords in my mitral valve was severe and required surgery. As soon as I heard this I knew there was only once surgeon to work with, Vaughn Starnes.
He is kind, caring and supported by wonderful people that have worked with him for 25 years, such as his Physician Assistant Bob Sachs who is one of the kindest and most responsive people I have even encountered in medicine. Beyond Dr. Starnes and his wonderful team, the post surgery care team at the Keck School of Medicine USC was first class.
The nursing team had some amazingly caring people. Many of them have worked at Keck for over 10 years which says something about the hospital. I will forever be grateful to Dr. Vaughn Starnes, his incredible talent and the entire team at Keck.
I will highly recommend to anyone that needs heart surgery to please meet with Dr. Vaughn Starnes. It's been 3 weeks since my surgery and I feel like I am driving a new car. "
-- Warren Davidoff, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, 08/21/2020
-- Joan Higgins, Tricuspid Valve, Valve Replacement, 07/24/2020
He laid out the procedure and informed me that I had a good chance of making a complete recovery. After the surgery, he came into my room and we spoke about the procedure. Due the no visitor situation in the hospital because of the coronavirus outbreak, Dr. Starnes called my wife and spoke with her as well, to which I was most grateful.
He visited me again while I was in intensive care and when I was transferred to the cardio ward to recover over a period of 5 days.
Needless to say, I am very grateful for his outstanding and highly skilled work as well as his council regarding my situation.
I since have been in contact with his PA Bob Sachs who has been fantastic helping my wife when she had questions and me for my post op treatment.
He has answered all of our calls and texts quickly while providing us valuable information concerning meds and post op treatment. "5-Star" rating for Dr. Starnes and his team. Thank you all so very much.
Feeling great and on the mend in Thousand Oaks!"
-- Andrew Mckittrick, Aortic Valve, Valve Replacement, Root Replacement, 05/12/2020
-- Chris W, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, 04/19/2020
To prepare for my next operation, we had to request a change in medical groups so I can be able to get Dr. Starnes. My family and I believes that he is the best surgeon qualified if I needed to get another operation, which I fortunately did.
At 23 years of age, I got my fourth operation done by him again at USC Keck and it was an honor to have him as my heart surgeon again. Dr. Starnes is very admirable, passionate, and professional when it comes to his work. In addition, he is also precise when it comes to providing details to make sure, in terms of my condition, on what needs to be done to make sure I am properly taken care of before, during, and after the surgery.
By the end of the pre-op meeting, he was kind to answer questions from my parents and I. Furthermore, expressed if I had any concerns or other important questions. I followed accordingly the days leading up to my surgery. On the day of operation, his interdisciplinary team were generous and got me in a calming mood so I would not be nervous prior to the procedure and felt that I was in good hands. The results after post-op and discharge felt great and did not feel hesitant to ask questions related to the procedure. In the process of recovery, I have been doing well and staying compliant with medications, diet, exercise, and other discharge instructions.
I can not greatly thank him enough for what he did and credit to also Robert the PA, the OR staff, ICU staff, Telemetry staff, and all the nurses who watched over me in each unit day after day. To sum it up, it was a great journey and an important one for my health. I am thankful for what Starnes and his team did. Overall from my experience, I approve Dr. Starnes as a top tier heart surgeon and recommend him if anyone needs heart surgery."
-- Ivan Bautista, Pulmonary Valve, Tricuspid Valve, Valve Repair, Valve Replacement, Median Sternotomy, 04/07/2020
-- Chris Corbet, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, Median Sternotomy, 01/22/2020
-- Scott Phillips, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, 01/15/2020
-- Ana Brusso, Aortic Valve, Valve Replacement, Median Sternotomy, 11/26/2019
I had recently suffered a silent heart attack, and learned that I had 4-vessel disease. Doctor Starnes and his staff were professional and compassionate. They were extremely thorough in explaining my anticipated surgery and recovery.
Dr. Starnes rounded post-operatively and made sure that all of my needs were being attended to. The staff at Keck Hospital of USC was excellent. Dr. Starnes' surgical skills are second to none. I felt very minimal pain after surgery and only needed Tylenol when I was discharged home on post-op day 5. I look forward to my continued recovery and return to work.
Each day that I see my family, my wife, my daughter and granddaughters, I thank God for bringing my Angel, Dr Starnes, into my life and giving me a "new heart", and a new lease on life. Unfortunately, not every one with heart disease is as fortunate. Thank you Dr. Starnes. Jaime Lopez MD"
-- Jaime Lopez, Aortic Valve, Median Sternotomy, 11/19/2019
-- James Sawyer, Aortic Valve, Valve Replacement, 09/18/2019
The results of the surgery were very successful and within the second week out, I was back to re-establishing my daily routine. Despite chest tenderness and soreness, issues directly with my heart function have been corrected.
In addition, his PA Bob is extremely attentive and following the initial visit, corresponded with me regarding any questions that arose prior to and following procedure. Dr. Starnes and PA Bob make an outstanding team."
-- Connie Jensen, Mitral Valve, Tricuspid Valve, Valve Repair, Valve Replacement, Median Sternotomy, Maze Procedure, 09/03/2019
-- Robert Walsh, Mitral Valve, 08/28/2019
-- Joseph Donovan, Aortic Valve, Valve Replacement, 08/20/2019
My cardiologists approach was to keep me on warfarin for the rest of life. I asked for a referral to Dr. Starnes and the surgery was approved. Dr. Starnes performed the surgery and 6 weeks later I am doing well.
Best of all, I no longer need to take warfarin!! He is very confident and really put my family and myself at ease.
Thank you again for being my surgeon."
-- Todd Devine, Aortic Valve, Median Sternotomy, 08/20/2019
-- Sue Nicolaisen, Aortic Valve, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, 08/13/2019
-- Eric Laughlin, Aortic Valve, Pulmonary Valve, Median Sternotomy, 06/25/2019
-- Shaun Stiles, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, 06/25/2019
-- Jeffrey Schodorf, Aortic Valve, Root Replacement, 06/18/2019
-- Mimi Nuccio, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, Maze Procedure, 06/14/2019
-- James Martinez, Aortic Valve, Ross Procedure, 05/24/2019
-- Henry Hoss, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, 04/23/2019
-- Fred Padilla, Aortic Valve, Valve Replacement, Median Sternotomy, 04/05/2019
-- Andrew Marrama, Aortic Valve, Root Replacement, 03/12/2019
-- Steve Plooy, Tricuspid Valve, Valve Repair, Median Sternotomy, 03/05/2019
I am truly a blessed man to have landed in such competent hands. If you want as good an outcome as possible, and you have the opportunity to go with Dr. Starnes, look no further, he is your man."
-- James Coyne, Pulmonary Valve, Valve Repair, 03/01/2019
-- Shane Thompson, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, 02/27/2019
So, after a 2nd echo to confirm the results, I met with the cardiologist to do my homework. God bless Google search. Dr Starnes at USC was only 45 miles from my home. I couldn't find anything bad about him on the internet. He had many, many years of practice and he had performed over 500 ross procedures.
So, I went and told my cardiologist I wanted my referral to see and talk to Dr. Starnes. Cardiologist was not pleased but did what I asked. I met with Dr. Starnes on 12/18/18 and was scheduled for surgery on 2/8/2019. But, I needed an angiogram before surgery could be done.
For what ever reason, I got a lot of crap from my cardiologist about a date so soon. Long story short... Angiogram was done on 1/14/2019 and i was set to go.
Everything at USC was smooth sailing. It is a very "well oiled" production from all the pre-op to discharge after surgery. Everything went as scheduled after the surgery. Doctor Starnes talked to my family and made them feel very comfortable with everything he told them. I was in ICU for 2 days and then moved to the step down cardiac unit for 2 days. So, in at 5am Friday morning and out by 11 am Tuesday.
While I was at USC, I had the best medical care I have ever received in my life. All of the staff down to the janitor coming in to clean the room were so polite and caring. I almost wanted to stay longer.
Fast forward 15 weeks post-op... I had my first echo post surgery. My cardiologist - before looking at the name on the report - said to himself, "Why is this person needed to see a cardiologist as the valve pressure # are perfect?". Then, he looked up and saw the patient name was me. Pre-surgery my valve pressure was 74. Post-op today they are 9 as close to normal as if I wasn't born with a valve problem.
So, today I say thank God for putting Dr. Vaughn Starnes on this earth to help people and God bless his golden fingers. I have a lot of living left to do which includes chasing after my 2 grandchildren and seeing my 3rd one come into the world this coming October. If you are looking for a surgeon he is one of the best."
-- Charlotte Barta, Aortic Valve, Ross Procedure, 02/08/2019
I had a heart attack and a stent was put in by another hospital/doctor, I had complications from the heart attack.. a VSD, and pseudoanuerysym.
The other doctors told me that this was very rare and not many surgeons have performed this surgery. In my first meeting with Dr. Starnes he totally put me at ease and told me there was very little risk and that it would be no problem. (The referring surgeon pained a pretty grim picture of the risks involved in my surgery.)
Fast forward 6 weeks later and I am recovering very well and have Dr. Starnes and the professional staff at Keck USC to thank!!!"
-- Todd Devine, Aortic Valve, Median Sternotomy, 02/06/2019
The staff at Keck USC contacted me shortly thereafter, providing me with the requisite pre-op information and also pointing me to their onsite lodging facilities so that my family could be close by. Day of surgery I did not see Dr. Starnes but the professionalism with which I was handled by his associated staff (Dr. Adt et al in pre-op) left me at ease and the fact that I am leaving this for you to read attests to his skill and success as a surgeon and the efficacy of the procedure. Post op, I again did not see Dr. Starnes but my family attests that he did address them. All room visits were handled by his associate staff (ty again Dr. Adt and there were others but I don't remember their names) and the USC staff gave me what I consider stellar care. My follow up with PA Sachs went well and again reassured me that I had been well taken care of. As for results, again I am typing this recommendation so there is that. My incisions are healing nicely, my local cardiologist (who recommended Dr. Starnes) is happy with the results, as well as my primary care physician. Again (I know I sound like a broken record), very, very happy with my experience. Some would say "but you only met him once..", to which I would say "meh, he's busy, I'm alive, his support staff never gave me reason to doubt, so no worries", but that's me. I absolutely recommend Dr. Starnes and would not think twice about having him work on me again. Thank you Dr. Starnes (and staff)! "
-- Jason Hall, Aortic Valve, Pulmonary Valve, Valve Repair, Valve Replacement, Median Sternotomy, Root Replacement, 02/01/2019
-- Maria Philippon, Aortic Valve, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, Valve Replacement, Median Sternotomy, 01/25/2019
-- Carl Carlson, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, Median Sternotomy, 12/21/2018
-- Gregory Ballard, Aortic Valve, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, Valve Replacement, Median Sternotomy, 12/21/2018
Post-operative care at Keck Hospital was seamless and I was sent home in five days. Recovery has been rapid with no complications. Kudos to the cardiothoracic team at Keck/USC."
-- Tom Simms, Mitral Valve, Tricuspid Valve, Valve Repair, Median Sternotomy, Maze Procedure, 11/28/2018
When they learned that my doctor was Dr. Vaughn Starnes of Keck Medical Center of USC, they said only one word... WOW!
I myself am amazed that Dr. Starnes accepted my case. It's like he stepped down from his pedestal of medical supremacy to help me... a simple nobody. He is a truly humble individual and a medical wonder too.
Any one looking for a surgeon should consider Dr Vaughn Starnes' credentials."
-- Efren Dy Aguilera, Aortic Valve, 11/28/2018
-- John Miller, Aortic Valve, Valve Replacement, 10/30/2018
-- Raymond Rivera, Aortic Valve, Valve Replacement, 10/16/2018
-- Anders Goranson, Aortic Valve, Pulmonary Valve, Ross Procedure, 10/10/2018
-- Frank Meza, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, 09/26/2018
-- Michael Ruhr, Aortic Valve, Valve Replacement, 09/11/2018
-- Robert Brant, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, Robotic Surgery, 09/04/2018
-- Glen Moulder, Aortic Valve, Valve Repair, Maze Procedure, 08/29/2018
-- James Gibson, Mitral Valve, Valve Replacement, Maze Procedure, 08/22/2018
-- Ian McInnes, Aortic Valve, Valve Replacement, 08/08/2018
-- Dale Taros, Aortic Valve, Valve Replacement, Root Replacement, 07/25/2018
-- Travis Rodriguez, Aortic Valve, Pulmonary Valve, Ross Procedure, 07/18/2018
-- Lawrence Berko, Aortic Valve, Valve Replacement, 07/13/2018
-- Michael Mulroy, Aortic Valve, Valve Replacement, Median Sternotomy, Root Replacement, 06/27/2018
-- Bill Davis, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, 06/19/2018
-- Ashleigh Wood, Aortic Valve, Valve Repair, Root Replacement, David Procedure, 02/28/2018
-- Silva Oganyan, Pulmonary Valve, Mitral Valve, Tricuspid Valve, Valve Repair, Valve Replacement, 09/15/2017
-- Lonnie Parker, Aortic Valve, Median Sternotomy, Root Replacement, 01/27/2017
-- Stephen Eisen, Mitral Valve, Valve Replacement, 01/15/2016
-- Albert Dyen, Aortic Valve, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, Maze Procedure, 09/08/2015
-- Anthony Pecoraro, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, 01/08/2013
-- Donna Russell, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, 05/11/2012
-- Judy Francis, Aortic Valve, Valve Replacement, 04/25/2012
-- John C Mackenzie, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, 04/17/2012
I am followed annually and have seen very little change in the function of both valves. I am thankful everyday for Dr. Starnes and his team. In addition to being an amazing surgeon, he has a great bedside manner."
-- Michael Glasman, Aortic Valve, Pulmonary Valve, Median Sternotomy, 09/15/2011
-- Debby Tomlinson, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, 09/13/2011
-- Myrna Gaskin, Aortic Valve, Valve Replacement, Mini Sternotomy, 05/03/2011
-- Craig Kappe, Aortic Valve, Valve Replacement, Median Sternotomy, 08/29/2010
-- Phyllis Pivo, Mitral Valve, Valve Replacement, Median Sternotomy, Maze Procedure, 05/26/2009
-- Surya Sastry, Aortic Valve, Mitral Valve, Valve Replacement, 12/10/2008
-- Tim Clackett, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, Mini Sternotomy, 11/18/2008
-- JOHN MADDALO, Aortic Valve, Root Replacement, 11/14/2008
-- David Gray, Aortic Valve, Root Replacement, 08/22/2008
-- Mara Rabin, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, 02/06/2008
-- Ed Crutchfield, Aortic Valve, Valve Replacement, 08/22/2007
-- Adam Pick, Aortic Valve, Pulmonary Valve, Valve Replacement, Ross Procedure, 12/21/2005
-- Angel Echeverria, Aortic Valve, 05/11/2002
-- Frank Thibaudeau, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, 09/21/2001
By this time, my son was in congestive heart failure, extremely malnourished, failing to thrive, projectile vomiting and lethargic. We were terrified we would lose him. His surgery was performed on February 6th. He had a resection of his aorta and a repair of a PAPVR. His recovery was slow for the first year following his surgery.
Today he is 22 years old, in excellent health and living a productive life. Each February, I think of Dr. Vincent and Dr. Starnes working together to save the life of my son. I am so deeply thankful."
-- Kim Weaver, Aortic Valve, Pulmonary Valve, Valve Repair, 02/06/1997
-- Tomas Medina, Aortic Valve, Transcatheter, 05/12/1995
-- Angela Kurup, Pulmonary Valve, Valve Repair, 07/05/1991
-- Melissa Patania, Aortic Valve, Pulmonary Valve, Valve Repair, Transcatheter, 06/12/1984
My Specialities &
My heart surgery specialties include:
- Aortic valve replacement including the Ross Procedure
- Mitral valve repair
- Minimally invasive valve repair
In addition, I have research and clinical interests specific to:
- Minimally invasive surgical approaches (robotic, transcatheter)
- Pediatric surgery
Education, Training & Certificates
Dr. Vaughn Starnes, heart surgeon, graduated from North Carolina (Chapel Hill) in 1977.
After medical school, Dr. Starnes completed a General Surgery Residency at Vanderbilt University and a Cardiothoracic Surgery Residency at Stanford University. Dr. Starnes also completed a fellowship in pediatric cardiovascular surgery at the Hospital for Sick Children in London, England.
Dr. Starnes is the Chair of the Department of Surgery, Surgeon-in-Chief at USC Norris Cancer and Keck Hospital. In addition, Dr. Starnes is the H. Russell Smith Foundation Chair for Cardiovascular Thoracic Research at the Keck Medical School of Medicine of USC in Los Angeles, California.
Dr. Starnes was 100th president of the American Association for Thoracic Surgery.
with Dr. Vaughn Starnes, MD
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Starnes, you can:
- Call (888) 536-1766 right now
- Request an appointment by clicking here.
The office of Dr. Starnes is located at 1520 San Pablo St., Los Angeles, CA 90033. To get driving directions to this office, please click the map below.
> Click for driving directions to Dr. Starnes’s office.
News & Online References Featuring Dr. Vaughn Starnes
Here is the latest news featuring Dr. Vaughn Starnes:
- Dr. Vaughn Starnes Announced 100th President of American Association for Thoracic Surgery
- Jimmy Kimmels Son Has Life-Saving Cardiac Operation by Dr. Starnes
- Arnold Schwarzenegger: 10 Years After Heart Surgery by Dr. Vaughn Starnes
- Surgeon Q&A: Pediatric Mitral Leaflet Repair with Dr. Starnes
- Patient Story: Nathan Travels from Louisville to Los Angeles for Procedure by Dr. Starnes
- Why Is AFib Treatment My Standard of Care During Heart Valve Surgery?
- Surgeon Q&A: What Should Patients Know About Mitral Valve Surgery?
- COVID-19 Innovation: Telehealth & Cardiac Care
- Expert Surgeon Profile: Vaughn Starnes, MD, at Keck Medicine of USC in Los Angeles, California
- 8-Year Old Gets Successful Heart Valve Surgery Thanks to Dr. Vaughn Starnes
Page last updated: December 8, 2021