Robotic-Assisted Aortic Valve Repair
What is robotic-assisted aortic valve replacement?
Robotic-assisted aortic valve replacement is a type of minimally-invasive surgery.
Minimally invasive means that the surgery uses smaller incisions than a traditional
or open surgery. You may have a quicker recovery. The surgeon uses robotic tools to
replacea damaged aortic valve.
The heart has 4 valves. These valves help blood flow through the heart and out to
the body by promoting forward flow and preventing backflow. The aortic valve lies
between the left ventricle (the left pumping chamber of the heart) and the aorta (the
blood vessel that carries blood away from the heart to the rest of the body. Sometimes,
the valve stops working well and needs to be replaced. Your surgeon will replace the
valve with an artificial one. Blood can then leave the heart and flow out to the body
Not everyone is a candidate for robotic-assited aortic valve replacement.Surgeons
do this surgery while you are asleep under general anesthesia.
Why might I need robotic-assisted aortic valve replacement?
You might need an aortic valve replaced if your valve is not working as it should.
That may happen for a number of reasons. In aortic stenosis, the valve is not able
to open fully. So the heart must work harder to pump the blood across the narrowed
valve. In aortic regurgitation, the valve is leaky. Some blood re-enters the pumping
chamber of the heart instead of moving out to the rest of the body.
These health problems may lead to symptoms, such as shortness of breath, tiredness,
swelling in your legs, and unpleasant awareness of your heartbeat. If these symptoms
get worse, you may need surgery. In some cases, your healthcare provider may recommend
surgery even if you don’t have major symptoms. Surgery works best when symptoms have
not advanced too far.
Aortic valve disease can result from getting older. Other causes o include:
Congenital birth defects such as bicuspid aortic valve
Bacterial infection of the heart valve
Dissection of the aorta
Aneurysm of the aorta
Certain genetic problems such as Marfan syndrome
If you need an aortic valve replaced, talk with your healthcare provider about whether
robotic-assisted aortic valve replacement might be right for you. It may lead to less
pain and a shorter recovery. .
What are the risks for robotic-assisted aortic valve replacement ?
Any type of surgery has risks. Your risks will vary based on your health, your age,
and other factors. Talk with your healthcare provider about your concerns.
Most people who have robotic-assisted aortic valve surgery will have a successful
outcome. Possible risks include:
Blood clots, possibly leading to stroke or a heart attack
Complications from anesthesia
Irregular heart rhythms, in some cases requiring a permanent pacemaker
How do I get ready for robotic-assisted aortic valve replacement?
As you plan for the surgery, you and your healthcare provider will decide what kind
of valve will work best for you. Your surgeon will replace your valve with a biological
valve or a mechanical valve. Biological valves are made mainly of pig, cow, or human
heart tissue. Mechanical valves are man-made. The downside of biological valves is
that they don’t last as long as mechanical valves. But people with mechanical valves
need to take blood-thinning medicine for the rest of their life. Mechanical valves
also raise the risk of infection for the new valve.
Talk with your healthcare provider about how to get ready for your surgery. If you
smoke, try to stop smoking beforehand. It may lower your risk for complications. Tell
your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, including over-the-counter
medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Talk with your healthcare provider about
whether you need to stop taking any medicine before your surgery. Follow your healthcare
provider's instructions about not eating or drinking anything for the specific amount
of time before your surgery.
You may need some routine tests beforehand. These may include:
Chest x-ray, to check your lungs
Electrocardiogram (ECG), to check your heart rhythm
Basic blood tests, to check your general health
Echocardiogram, to look at your current valve
Cardiac catheterization, to look for blockages in the coronary arteries
What happens during robotic-assisted aortic valve replacement?
Check with your healthcare provider about the details of your surgery. In general,
you can expect the following:
Before the surgery starts, you’ll get general anesthesia. It will help you sleep deeply
and painlessly through the operation. Afterwards, you won't remember the surgery.
During the operation, the surgery staff will closely watch your vital signs. That
includes your heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, and oxygen levels.
Before and after the surgery, you may get antibiotics to help prevent infection.
You may be attached to a heart-lung machine. This machine acts as your heart and lungs
during the surgery.
Your surgeon will make some small incisions in the spaces between your ribs.
Your surgeon will insert several precision-guided robotic arms into these incisions.
These arms hold and manipulate tiny instruments to do the required tasks. A tiny video
camera will also be inserted to provide a magnified, three-dimensional image of the
Your surgeon will control the robotic arms and camera from a console located within
the operating site.
Your surgeon will look at continuous images from the robotic camera during this surgery.
Your surgeon will removeyour current valveand replace it with a new one.
Once the valve is replaced, the robotic tools, camera, and heart-lung machine will
The small incisions on your chest will be closed. A bandage will then be applied.
What happens after a robotic-assisted aortic valve replacement?
After your robotic-assisted aortic valve replacement surgery, you will start your
recovery in the intensive care unit or a recovery room. When you first wake up, you
might feel confused. You will be hooked up to several machines to watch your vital
signs more easily. You might also have a tube down your throat to help you breathe.
Most people who have aortic valve replacement notice that their symptoms are better
right away after surgery. You should expect a little pain afterward. But it shouldn’t
be severe. You can have pain medicine if you need it. You can have normal foods once
the breathing tube is removed and as soon as you can tolerate them. You will likely
need to stay in the hospital for a few days. Sometimes your stay may be longer.
It is important to make sure someone drives you home from the hospital. You may also
need some extra help at home for a little while.
A small amount of fluid draining from your incisions is normal. Tell your healthcare
provider if you have a lot of drainage, redness, or fever. Also let your healthcare
provider know right away if you have severe symptoms like sudden shortness of breath.
You may have your stitches removed at a later appointment. Your healthcare provider
will carefully watch you to make sure your surgery was successful.
You should need less recovery time than you would have from a standard or open aortic
valve replacement. But you still may tire easily for a while after your surgery. Get
more active as soon as your healthcare provider says it is OK. Avoid lifting anything
heavy for several weeks. Talk with your healthcare provider about what is safe for
you to lift. Also follow all your healthcare provider’s instructions about medicine,
exercise, diet, and wound care. It will help your recovery.
Make sure all your healthcare providers and dentists know about your health history.
You may need to take antibiotics before some dental procedures. This helps prevent
an infection of your replacement valve. Talk with your healthcare provider about whether
this applies to you.
Before you agree to the test or the procedure make sure you know:
The name of the test or procedure
The reason you are having the test or procedure
What results to expect and what they mean
The risks and benefits of the test or procedure
What the possible side effects or complications are
When and where you are to have the test or procedure
Who will do the test or procedure and what that person’s qualifications are
What would happen if you did not have the test or procedure
Any alternative tests or procedures to think about
How long it will take to get the results
When and how will you get the results
Who to call after the test or procedure if you have questions or problems or an emergency
How much will you have to pay for the test or procedure