How are robotic surgery procedures carried out while the heart is beating?

Interview with Professor Cem Alhan, cardiovascular surgeon in Acıbadem Healthcare Group Turkey

The procedures performed under robotic cardiac surgery are the same as the ones performed under open heart surgery, only the access points and methods differ. For instance, this objective can be repair of a dysfunctional valve, replacement of a structurally impaired valve with a new one, application of bypass procedures or sealing holes in the heart. These techniques are used as standard in the whole world. However, in Acibadem, we have been performing some very different applications in robotic heart surgery.

In Acibadem, we have patients who have undergone heart surgery for 3, 4 or even 5 times before; performing open heart surgery on such patients in presence of a cardiac valve problem is very risky. This is due to the fact that it is possible to damage the heart while opening the breast bone during an operation. In such cases, we leave the previous site of surgery untouched and access the area with the help of robots through a small underarm incision of 3 to 4 centimeters.

In standard heart surgeries, the heart is stopped and opened before the required procedure is performed. In Acibadem, we do not stop the heart and allow it to continue working while we open it through special techniques with robotic surgery; we then perform the required procedure -which can be valve repair, replacement or prosthetic implantation- and close up the heart again.

Robotic heart surgery eliminates the need for a big operation because we gain access through a very small spot. Since we stay away from the previously treated areas, the risk of causing damage is reduced greatly. Also, we do not stop the heart during surgery which guarantees no disruptions in the cardiac functions. The operation also takes much less time than a standard one and minimizes risk of infections, bleeding and blood transfusions.

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