Robotic Heart Surgery

Performing more than 1,000 procedures in the last 10 years, the Heart & Vascular Institute is a pioneer and regional leader in robot assisted cardiac surgery. Using sophisticated tools and just a few small incisions, this advanced form of minimally invasive surgery helps our cardiac surgeons operate with unmatched precision and control.

Robot assisted cardiac surgery in southeast Michigan

We are one of only a few programs in the Midwest performing robot assisted cardiac surgery. Our experts use the da Vinci® system, the first surgical robot system available in the U.S.

Although the da Vinci® system is called a “robot” it does not move on its own. Advanced robotic technology translates our surgeon’s precise movements, mirroring the natural flow of their hand, wrist and fingers. We use the da Vinci® surgery robot to perform:

  • Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG): Using one of your own blood vessels, we reroute blood around a blocked artery
  • Mitral valve replacement and repair: Procedures to repair or replace your mitral valve, allowing your heart to better control blood flow
  • Atrial septal defect repair: Using your own heart tissue, this procedure closes holes in the upper chamber of your heart

Our robotic surgery team includes surgeons with specialized training from local and international experts. Working with other specialists on the Heart & Vascular Institute team, we deliver comprehensive care to critically ill patients. We have years of experience successfully performing hybrid surgical procedures, combining robotic surgery with other surgical treatments in one procedure.

For instance, if you have a heart attack with multiple blocked arteries:

  • Angioplasty and stenting can quickly open and repair some blocked blood vessels
  • You may also be a candidate for robotically assisted coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) to bypass blockages in hard to reach areas

Cardiac surgery using the da Vinci® robot

The major difference between robotic surgery and traditional (open) surgery is that our experts are using a different tool. The da Vinci® system is the only remote-controlled tool approved by the FDA for operating in tight spaces within your body.

The da Vinci® robot consists of three main components:

  • Robotic “arms” which hold a tiny video camera and special instruments. These arms are capable of turning a full 360 degrees, offering our experts complete range of motion in carrying out movements with great accuracy.
  • A console that displays magnified, three-dimensional images from the video camera.
  • Master controls allowing the surgeon to manipulate the tools. Computer sensors attached to the robotic arms translate our surgeon’s precise movements to carry out your procedure.

If robotic surgery is right for your condition, here is what to expect:

  1. We give you medicine to put you to sleep (general anesthesia).
  2. Surgeons start by making up to five, two-centimeter incisions on the side of your chest around your ribs.
  3. Depending on the type of surgery, you may need assistance breathing with the help of a heart-lung bypass machine.
  4. We place robotic arms with a tiny three-dimensional (3-D), high definition video camera and specialized instruments through the incisions.
  5. Using the console controls, your surgeon directs the movement of the robotic instruments to perform the surgery.
  6. After the procedure is complete, surgeons remove the instruments and close the incisions with just a few stitches.
  7. You awake in the operating room.
  8. Your recovery continues in our cardiac ICU where nurses with special training in cardiovascular care monitor your condition.
  9. You can expect to stay in the hospital for a few days after surgery.

Your doctor will tell you if robotic assisted surgery is best for your condition. Sometimes, traditional surgery is the best option. Under traditional (open) surgery, surgeons expose your heart and surrounding structures by making a large cut (up to 10 inches) in your chest.

By using incisions no larger than two inches wide, robotic surgery has many potential benefits:

  • Less scarring
  • Less pain
  • Shorter hospital stay (usually 3 days)
  • Less use of pain medications
  • Less bleeding
  • Lower risk of infection
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