Krisha McCoy, MS
A doctor guides robotic arms to do surgery on the heart. The surgery is done through several tiny keyhole incisions.
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.
Depending on the reason for your surgery, your doctor may do the following:
Leading up to the procedure:
There are two options for anesthesia:
Several keyhole openings will be cut in the spaces between the ribs. Next, a small camera will be passed through one 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 one of the robotic arms. The other arms will hold instruments for grasping, cutting, dissecting, and suturing. 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 with joystick-like controls and foot pedals. After the instruments are removed, incisions will be closed with sutures or staples.
After the procedure, you will be:
Usually 1-4 hours, depending on the procedure
Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.
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:
It is important for you to monitor your recovery after you leave the hospital. Alert your doctor to any problems right away. If any of the following occur, call your doctor:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Heart Association
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Canadian Cardiovascular Society
About minimally invasive and robotic cardiac surgery. Columbia University Medical Center, Department of Surgery website. Available at:
http://www.columbiasurgery.org/pat/mirobotic/procedures.html. Accessed July 25, 2013.
Atrial septic defect repair. Inova Health System website. Available at:
http://www.inova.org/healthcare-services/pediatrics/types-of-services/pediatric-cardiovascular-program/procedures/atrial-septic-defect-repair.jsp. Accessed July 25, 2013.
Mitral valve repair. Society of Thoracic Surgeons website. Available at:
http://www.sts.org/sections/patientinformation/valvesurgery/mitralvalverepair/. Accessed July 25, 2013.
Robot-assisted heart surgery: how it works. Cleveland Clinic website. Available at:
http://my.clevelandclinic.org/heart/services/surgery/robotically-assisted-heart-surgery.aspx. Accessed July 25, 2013.
Last reviewed May 2014 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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