Jefferson University Hospitals

Thomas Jefferson University Hospital Launches Totally Robotic Cardiothoracic Surgery for Mitral Valve Repair

09/22/11

This week cardiothoracic surgeons at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital began performing wholly-robotic cardiac surgeries, beginning with mitral valve repairs.

“This is the next step in the advancement of our robotics program,” said Howard Weitz, MD, director of the Jefferson Heart Institute and Bernard L. Segal, Professor of Clinical Cardiology.  The division of Cardiothoracic Surgery has been conducting partial robotic surgeries for several months, using the robotic arm for access and better visualization in and around the heart.

The mitral valve, made up of two small but important flaps that control the flow of blood between the atrium and ventricles of the heart, are essential in regulating blood flow to the lungs, aorta and the body. As the atrium fills with blood the pressure pushes open the mitral valve allowing blood to flow into the left ventricle. It immediately closes behind to prevent a reversal of blood flow.

The valve can malfunction in the form of stenosis, a thickening, stiffening or fusing together of the valve flaps and regurgitation or backflow of blood into the atrium. If not treated, advanced heart valve disease can cause heart failure, stroke or blood clots.

Cardiothoracic surgeon Gurjyot Bajwa, MD, formerly on staff at the Cleveland Clinic was recently hired to further support Jefferson’s robotics program.

“The teams’ comprehensive robotics training will help us achieve quality outcomes for our patients,” said James Diehl, MD, director of the division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Jefferson.

Robotics provides surgeons with three-dimensional visualization in and around the heart, a “miniaturized” field for operating, and three robotic hands. This allows for a more precise surgery, less scarring and blood loss and faster recovery for patients.

Jefferson University Hospital is the first in Philadelphia to perform totally robotic mitral valve repair. The program will expand and further develop with the available technology.

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