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Robotic and Minimally Invasive Surgery

The Allegheny Health Network Cardiovascular Institute is one of the nation's most respected medical centers for minimally invasive and robotic heart surgeries. Our talented and experienced surgeons have successfully performed numerous surgeries through just a few small incisions rather than the standard approach of making a large chest incision. They are among just a handful of physicians in the country with the expertise to perform some of these innovative procedures that have resulted in exceptional outcomes for patients.

Our technology includes the most advanced instrumentation that enhances surgeons’ vision, precision and control. These methods allow you to experience the best possible result from surgery, endure less pain and blood loss, heal quicker and have little scarring.

The progressive devices and technologies that our heart surgeons use to perform minimally invasive surgeries include:

  • Sophisticated robotic devices that bend and rotate similar to the human wrist
  • Novel and sleek instruments that can reach to your heart through your ribs without having to split your breastbone
  • Miniature cameras and 3-D, high-definition vision systems that give the surgeon a better view of different parts of your heart than with open heart surgery  

 

Why the Cardiovascular Institute?

Experience Matters
For decades, our surgeons have been at the forefront of minimally invasive cardiac surgery. We were among the first in the country to perform heart bypass procedures, repair damaged heart valves and correct atrial fibrillation. And today, we are armed with an enormous amount of expertise from performing hundreds of robotic and minimally invasive procedures and teaching our colleagues these various techniques and methods.

Innovative Options
We perform various types of surgery to address heart conditions minimally invasively. For all, our surgeons access your heart through small incisions between the ribs or by using long, thin tubes (catheters) threaded through your femoral artery (located in the groin).

The procedures are:

  • Robot-assisted heart surgery: We can perform several types of heart surgery with robotic arms rather than with the surgeon’s hands. These arms are as flexible as human hands and can rotate in ways that a surgeon’s hands cannot. During the procedure, a surgeon makes a small incision in your chest and threads a thin, long tube containing a high-definition camera toward your heart. The surgeon views the inside of your body on a 3-D monitor and can repair damage to your heart, valves and other structures with the robotic system while the surgical team changes instruments attached to the robotic arm.
  • Video-assisted thorascopic surgery: This is when a surgeon makes a small incision in your chest and threads a thin, long tube (thorascoscope) containing a high-definition camera toward your heart. The surgeon views the inside of your body on a monitor and can repair damage to your heart, valves and other structures with sleek instruments inserted through small incisions.
  • Catheter-directed therapy: This involves a physician inserting a thin, hollow tube called a catheter into your body – typically through your femoral artery (located in the groin). The catheter can be used to drain fluid, inject dye to view on a specialized image machine, or to feed other instruments through to correct heart-related conditions.

 

Unparalleled benefits
Minimally invasive and robotic heart surgery techniques offer several advantages compared to open-chest procedures, including:

  • Shorter hospital stay: Your time in the hospital can occasionally be reduced by as much as 50 percent, compared to open procedures.
  • Faster return to normal activities: You can resume your job and other activities more quickly – sometimes as soon as two weeks. Traditional surgery normally takes several weeks to heal.
  • Lower risk of infection: By not having your breastbone cut, you have less of a chance for experiencing post-surgical complications and infections.
  • Reduced pain and trauma to your body: Because the surgeon doesn’t cut as much muscle and tissue as in traditional surgery, your body experiences minimal impact and you experience less pain after surgery.
  • Smaller, less-visible scars: Traditional open-heart procedures require a longer incision down the center of the chest, and these types of procedures need only a few small incisions.
  • Less blood loss: You have less need for a blood transfusion because of the small incisions made by the surgeon.
 
Not all patients are candidates for robotic and minimally invasive surgery. Your doctor and the Cardiovascular Institute team will evaluate your case with you to determine whether it is an option. The goal is always to find the best treatment option for your individual needs.