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What is Robotic Heart Surgery All About?

Traditionally, heart surgery is performed by dividing the breastplate with a saw (sternotomy).  Minimally invasive cardiac surgery is where smaller incisions are made to perform the same operations.  Robotic heart surgery is a form of minimally invasive heart surgery that uses the more dexterous robotic instruments to perform surgery through even smaller incisions with a degree of precision that is difficult without them.  Robotic instruments have the same dexterity and range of motion of a surgeon’s hands but are very small (maximum of 8 mm in diameter).  Also, the robotic system also helps smooth out surgeon hand and finger motion using a “fly by wire” type of approach similar to that used in modern jet aircraft.  In other words, the movements of a surgeons hand can be affected by things like tremor, but these types of movements are eliminated by the robotic system.  Additionally, the ability to precisely control the high definition 3D camera of the robotic system and to steer it easily into position along with a small robot-controlled surgical retractor allows for excellent visualization as you can see yourself from the videos on this website.

Precision Robotic Surgical Procedures Require a Team Approach and Experience

Robotic heart surgery requires a highly trained and experienced surgeon and team to perform.  The team functions like other high performance teams such as a pit crew in racing to achieve a high level of performance. With robotics, the surgeon sits at a console in the operating room controlling the instruments while looking at a high-definition 3D image from the camera inside the patient.  The surgeon controls the robot at all times.  It does not do anything without the surgeon directing it (just as a pilot controls an airplane).

listofroboticheartsurgeryproceduresLearn from this website what robotic mitral valve surgery and other types of robotic heart surgery procedures are all about! The most important factor in selecting a center for robotic heart surgery is training and experience.  Recent media reports have expressed appropriate concern  over the safety of robotics by surgeons and teams that are inadequately trained and prepared for these advanced procedures.  I have spent over a decade focused on the mastery of robotic surgery at every level including extensive formal and informal robotic cardiac surgery training followed by a lot of experience.

Another issue to be aware of is that many hospitals and surgeons claim to do robotic heart surgery, but very few are doing it routinely and through only tiny incisions.  I mostly do what I consider to be totally endoscopic procedures, which I define as:  the incisions are so small (usually 8-15 mm) that you cannot see into the chest directly to do any portion of the procedure.

Dr. Guy performs robotic heart surgery.

Dr. Guy performing robotic heart surgery.

Keep in mind, however, that most patients undergoing heart surgery need a standard incision depending on what their problem is.  However, many heart surgery procedures are easily performed with the robot. The purpose of this website is to provide you with detailed information and empower you so that you can make informed choices about your medical care.  Ultimately the decisions are yours.

Request an appointment with Dr. T. Sloane Guy to discuss robotic heart surgery.

T. Sloane Guy, MD

T. Sloane Guy, MD

Dr. Guy earned his MD and completed surgery residency and cardiothoracic surgery fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania. He has extensive training and experience in robotic cardiac surgery. He is a former Lieutenant Colonel in U.S. Army who served 3 tours as a combat surgeon in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is an Associate Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery and Director of Robotic Cardiac Surgery at Weill Cornell Medicine/New York Presbyterian Hospital in New York City.

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Contact & Location Info

T. Sloane Guy, MD, MBA Weill Cornell School of Medicine/New York Presbyterian Hospital
525 East 68th Street
Suite M404
New York, NY 10065
(212) 746-9443

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