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.