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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 heart 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 would be difficult without them.

Robotic Mitral Repair Patient from Dr. Sloane Guy

Patient who had a robotic mitral valve repair. Recovery time varies and is hard to predict but this shows what is possible.

Robotic instruments have the same dexterity and range of motion of a surgeon’s hands but are much smaller (maximum of 8 mm in diameter). Also, the robotic system helps to smooth out the surgeon’s hand and finger motion by using a “fly by wire” type of approach similar to that used in modern jet aircraft. In other words, things like a tremor can affect the movements of a surgeon’s hand, however these types of unwanted movements are eliminated by the use of the robotic system. Additionally, the ability to precisely control the high definition 3D camera of the robotic system and steer it easily into position along with a small robot-controlled surgical retractor allows for excellent visualization.

Cornell/NYPH Robotic Heart Team

Weill Cornell Medicine/New York Presbyterian Robotic Cardiac Surgery Team

Precision Robotic Surgical Procedures Require a Team Approach and Experience

To perform robotic heart surgery, a highly trained and experienced surgeon and equally experienced team is required. Just like a pit crew in racing, this team must function together flawlessly 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 factors 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 focusing on mastering robotic surgery gaining enormous) experience at every level including extensive formal and informal robotic cardiac surgery.

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 exclusively through tiny incisions. I mostly do what I consider to be totally endoscopic procedures, which I define as: the incisions being 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, that depending on what their problem is, most patients undergoing heart surgery will still need a standard incision.  However, many heart surgery procedures are easily performed with the robot. Also understand that there are many different techniques and methods to repair your mitral valve.  There are many excellent surgeons who use alternative techniques with great results (such as sternotomy, mini-sternotomy, “port access” mini-thoracotomy, and others).  That being said, I sincerely believe in robotic cardiac surgery for an appropriate patient because it allows me to make truly tiny incisions to do the operation, avoid a sternotomy (sawing open the breastplate), and see and repair the mitral valve with great clarity and precision.

The purpose of this website is to provide you with detailed information about robotic cardiac surgery from a surgeon who does it and empower you so that you can make informed choices about your medical care.  Ultimately the decisions are yours.  I want to make sure you are able to make informed decisions and truly understand your options.

Request an appointment online to discuss robotic heart surgery. If no appointments are available quickly enough for your needs, please contact my office at 212-746-9443.

T. Sloane Guy, Robotic Heart Surgeon

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 and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City.

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Contact & Location Info

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



NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital
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