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Robotic Heart Surgery

Robot-assisted heart surgery is a minimally invasive procedure that helps correct heart valve disease, structural heart defects, and other heart problems. Heart surgeons at the Allegheny Health Network (AHN) Cardiovascular Institute use the most advanced robotic technology to enhance vision, precision, and control.

What is robotic heart surgery?

Our heart surgeons perform robotic cardiac surgery using the da Vinci® surgical system to help elevate patient care. The flexible robotic arms can rotate in directions that are impossible for a human hand. A high-definition camera provides real-time, three-dimensional viewing of the heart.

How does robotic heart surgery work?

Because surgery takes place through small incisions, patients often experience faster recoveries along with less scarring and risk of infection. Still, this surgical approach isn’t right for everyone. Your physician will assess your unique situation to determine the best treatment plan.

During robot-assisted heart surgery, your doctor will insert miniaturized instruments and a three-dimensional camera into your body through a tiny incision in the chest. Once inserted, your surgeon uses master controls to manipulate the instruments. The instruments will translate your surgeons’ movements into precise robotic movements inside your body. While the robotic system is assisting in the operation, your surgeon is in complete control the entire time.

What does robotic heart surgery involve?

During robotic-assisted heart surgery, your surgeon:

  • Makes a few small incisions in the chest.
  • Inserts a small high-definition camera into the chest to visualize the heart.
  • Inserts the robotic arms into two of the chest incisions.
  • Views 3D images of the heart on a computer monitor.
  • Repairs damage to heart valves or other structures using the robotic arms and monitor.

Types of robotic heart surgery procedures

Robotic-assisted heart surgery can be used for a number of procedures, including:

Valve repair

Mitral valve repair is the preferred treatment for people with specific types of mitral disease. Robotic-assisted surgery allows precise reconstruction of even the most complex mitral leaflet abnormalities.

Valve replacement

Minimally invasive, robotic-assisted heart valve replacement surgery or transcatheter is used to replace the mitral valve with a mechanical or tissue valve.

Heart defect repair

Congenital heart defects, or “holes” in the heart, can be patched and closed with a robotic approach.

Coronary artery bypass

Robotic-assisted heart bypass surgery can be performed to restore blood flow to your heart muscle.

Robotic vs. open-heart surgery pros and cons

While both procedures have risks, there are many benefits to robotic-assisted heart surgery. Robotic-assisted heart surgery recovery is shorter and poses less risk of infection than an open-heart procedure. Your surgeon also has precise visualization for surgery with robotic assistance.

At AHN, the safety of our patients is our top priority. Our entire surgical team is highly trained in this procedure to ensure quality and safety.

Robotic heart surgery at AHN: Why choose us?

When you undergo robotic-assisted heart surgery at AHN, you benefit from:

Advanced technology

We use the latest da Vinci® surgical system, which enhances surgical vision, maneuverability, and control.

Exceptional outcomes

We have a greater than 98% success rate using robotic technology to repair or replace faulty mitral heart valves. Our surgeons perform hundreds of lifesaving minimally invasive heart procedures, including robotic-assisted surgeries, every year with remarkable results.

Research advancements

The AHN Cardiovascular Research Institute is actively involved in clinical trials to perfect new robotic-assisted procedures and test new devices.

Team approach

Your care team includes cardiac surgeons, heart specialists, nurses, pharmacists, and other experts working together to provide the best results for you.

A demonstrated record of superior clinical outcomes

The mitral repair program at Allegheny General Hospital (AGH) is the first hospital in Pennsylvania and one of only 21 facilities in the country to earn the Mitral Valve Repair Reference Center Award from the American Heart Association (AHA) and the Mitral Foundation*. Allegheny General also received a 3-star rating from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons for mitral valve repair/replacement (MVRR).

Contact us

Call (412) DOCTORS (412) 362-8677 or request an appointment to see an AHN cardiologist.

da Vinci is a registered trademark of Intuitive Surgical Systems. Inc. and is used with permission


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Permission to post by Intuitive Surgical, Inc.


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The Mitral Valve Repair Reference Center Award designation is based on a demonstrated record of superior clinical outcomes resulting from evidence-based, guideline-directed degenerative mitral valve repair. For additional information on the award, visit the Mitral Foundation's website.