Robot-Assisted Cardiac Procedures
by Krisha McCoy, MS
A doctor guides robotic arms to do surgery on the heart. The surgery is done through several tiny keyhole incisions.
Reasons for Procedure
Robot-assisted cardiac procedures are done to treat a variety of conditions:
Benefits of robot-assisted cardiac procedures may include:
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
Be sure to discuss these risks with your doctor before the surgery.
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
Depending on the reason for your surgery, your doctor may do the following:
Leading up to the procedure:
There are 2 options for anesthesia:
Description of the Procedure
Several keyhole openings will be cut in the spaces between the ribs. Next, a small camera will be passed through 1 of the incisions. This small camera is called an endoscope. It will light, magnify, and project an image of the organs onto a monitor. The endoscope will be attached to 1 of the robotic arms. The other arms will hold instruments for grasping, cutting, dissecting, and stitching. These may include:
While sitting at a console near the operating table, the doctor will use lenses to look at a magnified 3D image of the inside of the chest. Another doctor will stay by the operating table and adjust the camera and instruments. The robotic arms and tools will be guided by movements of the surgeon. After the instruments are removed, incisions will be closed with sutures or staples.
Immediately After Procedure
After the procedure, you will be:
How Long Will It Take?
Usually 1-4 hours, depending on the procedure
How Much Will It Hurt?
Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.
Average Hospital Stay
This procedure is done in a hospital setting. The usual length of stay depends on the procedure you had done. Your doctor may need to keep you longer if you have any problems.
When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
Call Your Doctor
Call your doctor if any of these occur:
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
American Heart Association
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
About minimally invasive and robotic cardiac surgery. Columbia University Medical Center, Department of Surgery website. Available at:
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Accessed March 27, 2018.
Robot-assisted heart surgery. Cleveland Clinic website. Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/17438-robotically-assisted-heart-surgery. Accessed March 27, 2018.
Last reviewed March 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Donald W. Buck II, MD
Last Updated: 5/29/2014
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