What is robotic heart surgery?

Robotic surgery is an advanced method of surgery using leading-edge technology to perform minimally invasive procedures. These procedures are associated with potential benefits including:

  • Less trauma to the body
  • Less postoperative pain
  • Shorter hospital stays
  • Faster recovery

The robot is a sophisticated medical device that allows surgeons to operate through tiny incisions. The surgeon is stationed at a console and guides the robot’s every movement. The robot translates the surgeon’s hand motions to perform even the most complex and delicate procedures. Specialized micro-instruments used by the robot allow for greater range of motion than the human hand, resulting in unprecedented precision and control. The surgeon sees high-resolution, three-dimensional images of the robot’s every move on a state-of-the-art camera.

What does robotic heart surgery treat?

When your heart condition is no longer responsive to medication or other non-invasive cardiovascular interventions, surgery is most likely the next treatment option. For decades, the majority of cardiac operations required opening the chest, allowing the physician wide access to the entire heart and heart vessels.

Why choose Ohio State for robotic heart surgery?

Ten years after performing the nation’s first robotic heart surgery, Ohio State's Ross Heart Hospital continues to pioneer robotic surgery as one of only 21 active training centers in the United States using one of the more than 300 Da Vinci Systems worldwide. By establishing these robotic procedures as the standard of care, the Ross Heart Hospital builds on its tradition of innovative cardiac surgical techniques, training surgeons who specifically come to Ohio State's Center for Advanced Robotic Surgery to become experts in the robotic field.

Ohio State’s Heart and Vascular Center cardiothoracic surgery experts have led the development of many procedures widely used today, and are focused on continued innovation and development of new therapies and techniques.

We perform the following robotic heart procedures:

The Da Vinci® Robot System involves using a tiny camera with multiple lenses inserted into your chest, providing a three-dimensional image of the heart.

Traditionally, open-heart surgery involves a full incision of the breastbone that averages 9 -10 inches in length. With robot intervention, the use of tools to hold the chest cavity open during the latter part of surgery is minimized, resulting in less post-surgical chest discomfort for you and fewer rib fractures. Also, the camera and robotic arms provide your surgeon with much better visualization and dexterity.

What to expect during robotic heart surgery

Preparing for your procedure

Prior to your robotic heart surgery, you’ll meet with your doctor to discuss your medical history, the medicines you take and any questions you have about the procedure.

Depending on the reason for your surgery, your surgeon may schedule tests such as:

  • Electrocardiogram (EKG/ECG) – A test that records the electrical activity of the heart
  • CT angiogram (CTA - computed tomography angiogram) – An imaging procedure that uses CT technology to produce cross-sectional, detailed images of blood vessels
  • Pulmonary function tests – Tests to measure the lungs’ ability to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide appropriately
  • Chest X-ray – A radiograph or picture of the heart and lungs including blood vessels, ribs and bones of the spine

During your procedure

Your surgeon, at a nearby computer workstation, watches through a viewport to see inside the chest and uses a pair of joysticks to manipulate two precisely engineered robotic arms. The arms hold specially designed surgical instruments that mimic the actual movement of the surgeon's hands on the joysticks.

Using the robotic technology, only three holes – each about the diameter of a pencil – are needed to complete the surgery. The System cannot be programmed, nor can it make decisions on its own. The Da Vinci® System requires that every surgical maneuver be directed by your surgeon from the console, while the cardiac surgical team remains at your bedside.

After your procedure

After surgery, your surgeon updates your family on your condition. Generally you are awake shortly after surgery and can expect to sit up in bed the night of surgery, sipping fluids.

You can move out of bed to a chair or take short walks the next day. Pain medication is available. You may receive physical rehabilitation while in the hospital and are usually ready to go home a few days after surgery.

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