The short answer is yes, although not longer. The time a patient is on the heart lung machine and the duration the heart is “stopped” or “asleep” is somewhat longer than traditional surgery. However, the recovery period for robotic surgery patients in most series and my experience is much shorter than traditional surgery. So the longer period of the operation has no negative impact on the outcomes for the patient and in fact, the smaller incisions do often result in faster recovery. This question of length of the procedure is often brought up by “anti-robotic” heart surgeons who are either unable or unwilling to do these procedures as a way of suggesting open surgery is “better”. There is absolutely no evidence for this. The real issue is that in the modern era, what is important is the patient and their experience and not that of the surgeon. In the old days, surgeons were encouraged to make big incisions because it makes the operation faster and easier for the surgeon and safety and effectiveness were the only real priorities. In the modern era, safety and effectiveness remain at the top our our priorities (and robotics is as safe and effective) but we have added minimally invasive and the patient experience as priorities because they are important. As a personal anecdote, my own family member had a non-cardiac surgery robotic procedure and was out of the hospital within 24 hours and driving within days. While the operation was likely longer than with open surgery, I can say from personal experience there is no substitute for a fast recovery provided safety and effectiveness are preserved.

Category: Questions about Robotic Cardiac Surgery Procedures
T. Sloane Guy, MD

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