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Kenton J. Zehr, M.D.

Kenton James Zehr, M.D.

Photo of Dr. Kenton J. Zehr, M.D.

Associate Professor of Surgery


Expertise: Aortic Aneurysms, Aortic Dissections, Aortic Root Replacement, Aortic Surgery, Aortic Valve Repair, Aortic Valve Sparing Root Replacement, Atrial Fibrillation, Cardiac Surgery, Cardiopulmonary Transplant, Coronary Bypass Surgery, Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, Mitral Valve Repair, Valvular Heart Surgery, Ventricular Assist Device more

Research Interests: The Inflammatory Response to Extracorporeal Circuits; Hypothermic circulatory arrest; Device Development

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The Johns Hopkins Hospital
Appointment Phone: 410-955-2800

600 N. Wolfe Street
Heart and Vascular Institute, Sheikh Zayed Tower, Suite 7107
Baltimore, MD 21287 map
Phone: 410-955-2800
Fax: 410-502-2399


Dr. Kenton Zehr is a cardiovascular surgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital and associate professor of surgery. He specializes in aortic root and aortic aneurysm surgery, repair techniques for the aortic and mitral valves, and mechanical assistance for the failing heart and lungs. Dr. Zehr has a strong interest in the development of mechanical devices to assist the heart and lungs, and holds several device patents.

After graduating the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine in 1989, Dr. Zehr completed a 9-year general surgery/cardiothoracic surgery residency and fellowship in at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1998.  During his residency, he spent two years in the Cardiac Surgery Research Laboratories under Dr. William A. Baumgartner.  He also completed a fellowship in aortic surgery and thoracic organ transplantation with Sir Magdi H. Yacoub at Harefield Hospital, London, UK.

Dr. Zehr joined the faculty at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., concentrating on clinical surgery. He then spent two years as the Chief of Cardiac Surgery, Associate Director of the Heart, Lung, and Esophageal Institute at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and Professor of Surgery before becoming chief of cardiothoracic surgery, director of the Center for Aortic Disease at Scott and White Clinic and professor of surgery at Texas A & M University, Health Sciences Center, School of Medicine from 2009 to 2013. At Scott & White Clinic, he spearheaded several programs—The Center for Aortic Disease, The Thoracic Organ Transplant Program [heart and lung transplantation], The Ventricular Assist Device Program [temporary and long-term support], The Adult Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation Program [ECMO], and the TAVR program. Dr. Zehr returned to the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions as Associate Professor of Surgery in 2014.

Dr. Zehr has had a long-standing interest in international education. He has conducted operative workshops in Russia, India, and Iran.  He has been a contributor in the development and growth of the Perm Heart Institute, Perm, Russia and was named Honorary Professor.  The program has grown from 50 cases to over 3000 open-heart procedures per year in its first decade.  He took a year from his USA practice to operate in Perm full-time in 2008 and served as director of education.

Over his career Dr. Zehr has developed clinical interests in aortic root and aortic aneurysm surgery, repair techniques for the aortic and mitral valves, and mechanical assistance for the failing heart and lungs. He has been recognized for his teaching abilities and was awarded the Anthony L. Imbembo Surgical Residents Teaching Award from the Johns Hopkins Hospital and the Faculty Teaching Award from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Dr. Zehr has served as an advisor to several mechanical assist device companies. He has been a peer reviewer for Circulation, the Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, Annals of Thoracic Surgery, American Journal of Cardiology, European Journal of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery and the Journal of Heart Valve Disease, and served 5 years on the editorial board of the journal Chest. He is an active member of professional societies including the American Association of Thoracic Surgery, the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, the European Association of Cardiothoracic Surgery and the Society for Heart Valve Disease. He is author of over 110 publications and 11 book chapters covering nearly the entire gamut of acquired adult cardiac surgical diseases. more


  • Associate Professor of Surgery

Departments / Divisions



  • MD, Penn State College of Medicine (1989)


  • Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine / General Surgery (1991)


  • Harefield Hospital / Transplant Surgery (1996)
  • Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine / Cardiac Surgery (1998)

Board Certifications

  • American Board of Surgery / General Surgery (1996)
  • American Board of Thoracic Surgery / Thoracic and Cardiac Surgery (1999)

Research & Publications

Selected Publications

View all on Pubmed

Pietro Bajona; Stefano Salizzoni; Stijn Vandenberghe; Charles J. Bruce; Giovanni Speziali; Kenton J. Zehr. "The Balloon Plug Concept" for Tricuspid Valve Repair: Ex Vivo Proof of Concept. Innovations: Technology and Techniques in Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery. 2015.

Pietro Bajona; Stefano Salizzoni; Stijn Vandenberghe; Charles J. Bruce; Giovanni Speziali; Kenton J. Zehr. "The balloon plug concept" for tricuspid valve repair: Ex vivo proof of concept. Innovations: Technology and Techniques in Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery. 2015;10(1):27-32.

Michael J. Ewing; Riyam T. Zreik; Ludvik R. Donner; Kenton J. Zehr. Large lymphaticovenous malformation resection. Interactive Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery. 2013;17(1):205-206.

Basar Sareyyupoglu; Patrick Lammert; Enrique Gongora; Juan C. Zubieta; Kenton J. Zehr. Pump outflow graft puncture in a patient with a heartmate II ventricular assist device. Annals of Thoracic Surgery. 2013;95(4):e97-e98.

Jaishankar Raman; Sven Lehmann; Kenton Zehr; Brian J. De Guzman; Lishan Aklog; H. Edward Garrett; Heber MacMahon; Brian M. Hatcher; Michael S. Wong. Sternal closure with rigid plate fixation versus wire closure: A randomized controlled multicenter trial. Annals of Thoracic Surgery. 2012;94(6):1854-1861.

Dennis Ho; Maqsood Elahi; Kenton Zehr; Wade Knight. Giant papillary muscles masquerading as a left ventricular mass: An incidental intraoperative echocardiographic finding. European Journal of Cardio-thoracic Surgery. 2012;42(4):749.

Michael J. Ewing; Philip D. Houck; Glen B. Drake; Kenton J. Zehr. Mycotic pseudoaneurysm of the aortic arch with purulent pericardial effusion. Annals of Thoracic Surgery. 2012;93(4):1301-1303.

Jennifer Sue Lawton; John M. Stulak; Kenton J. Zehr; Niv Ad; Richard Lee. Rakesh M. Suri; Kenton J. Zehr; Thoralf M. Sundt III; Joseph A. Dearani; Richard C. Daly; Jae K. Oh; Hartzell V. Schaff. Left Ventricular Mass Regression After Porcine Versus Bovine Aortic Valve Replacement: A Randomized Comparison. Annals of Thoracic Surgery. 2009;88(4):1232-1237.

Stefano Salizzoni; Pietro Bajona; Kenton J. Zehr; William D. Anderson; Stijn Vandenberghe; Giovanni Speziali. Transapical off-pump removal of the native aortic valve: A proof-of-concept animal study. Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery. 2009;138(2):468-473.

Pietro Bajona; William E. Katz; Richard C. Daly; Kenton J. Zehr; Giovanni Speziali. Beating-heart, off-pump mitral valve repair by implantation of artificial chordae tendineae: An acute in vivo animal study. Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery. 2009;137(1):188-193.


Method and apparatus for percutaneous aortic valve replacement
Patent # WO2010011736 A1, EP2306934A1, EP2306934A4, US20090030510, US20140142692 | 07/25/2008
A catheter adapted for placement in the ascending aorta comprises a central catheter mechanism and a balloon structure or other occluding structure at its distal end. The catheter may be placed over the aortic arch such that the balloon structure is placed in the ascending aorta just above the Sinus of Valsalva and coronary ostia. Once in place, the balloon structure is inflated to control blood flow through the aorta during aortic valve ablation and replacement protocols.

Activities & Honors


  • Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society, 3rd year inductee, 1988
  • Best Doctors, Austin Business Journal, 2011
  • Excellence Through Teamwork Award, Cardiovascular Surgery, 2005
  • American Chemistry Society Award, Eastern Mennonite College, 1978
  • Honoured Professor of the Heart Institute, Perm Heart Institute, 2011
  • Anthony L. Imbembo Surgical Residents Teaching Award, The Johns Hopkins University, 1995
  • McGraw-Hill Award, The Pennsylvania State University, 1986
  • Edward C. Hammond Memorial Scholarship, The Pennsylvania State University, 1988
  • The Dr. Irwin L. Baird Memorial Award, The Pennsylvania State University, 1989
  • Department of Surgery Scholarship for Excellence in Surgery, The Pennsylvania State University, 1989
  • Faculty Teaching Award, University of Pittsburgh, 2007
  • Research Training Grant, NIH, 1986 - 1987


  • Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society, 1988
  • American Association of Thoracic Surgery, 2005
  • European Association of Cardiothoracic Surgery, 2000
  • Fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians, 2000
  • Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, 2001
  • Halstead Surgical Society, Old Hands, 1999
  • International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation, 2009
  • Mennonite Medical Association, 1986
  • Priestley Society, 1999
  • Society for Heart Valve Disease, 2000
  • Society of Thoracic Surgery, 2003

Patient Ratings & Comments

The Patient Rating score is an average of all responses to physician related questions on the national CG-CAHPS Medical Practice patient experience survey through Press Ganey. Responses are measured on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the best score. Comments are also gathered from our CG-CAHPS Medical Practice Survey through Press Ganey and displayed in their entirety. Patients are de-identified for confidentiality and patient privacy.

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