You need to have a heart procedure performed in the near future and know that robotic heart surgery is an option. But there isn’t a robotic heart surgeon nearby. What are your options?
If you’ve talked with your cardiologist or a cardiothoracic surgeon and know that robotic heart surgery is an option for the type of procedure you’re having, that’s step one. Your medical provider may have mentioned the option but also that he or she doesn’t perform robotic surgery.
So, what now? In many cases, you can travel to a hospital or health system that does offer a robotic version of the surgery you need. Read on for more information.
What are the benefits of robotic heart surgery?
Robotic heart surgery offers many benefits to patients. Robotic surgeries in general use smaller incisions and tiny instruments, which leads to reduced blood loss, smaller scars, reduced pain, a lower risk of complications, and a quicker recovery.
Robotic heart surgery has added benefits in many cases. Many heart surgeries, like coronary artery bypass, are traditionally performed using an open procedure that requires opening up the chest to access the heart. A robotic heart surgeon performs the same procedure but accesses the heart in a less invasive way, so it isn’t necessary to cut open the chest and break the sternum.
That means that patients have less pain and a quicker recovery, since healing the sternum isn’t part of the recovery process.
Can I be referred to a robotic heart surgeon away from home?
Yes, you can! While you’ll need to check into the specific details of what your insurance plan will cover, you may have the option of seeking robotic heart surgery at a hospital away from home.
Patients can travel to northeast Georgia to access the advanced robotic heart surgery capabilities at Georgia Heart Institute. In fact, our very first robotic heart surgery patient traveled from out of state to access her care.
When deciding on whether to travel to have robotic heart surgery, it’s important to think through many different factors. You’ll want to consider the benefits of the procedure and how it will affect your health and recovery, along with the specifics of how you’ll get there and how long you’ll need to stay.
While recovery time varies depending on the specific heart procedure, patients typically require less recovery time following a robotic heart surgery than after an open procedure.
With that said, though, when traveling from outside the area to undergo a surgical procedure, it’s a good plan to stay in the area for at least a week after being discharged from the hospital. This will allow you to ensure your recovery is on track, with no complications, and to see your surgeon for a postoperative appointment.
There are other factors to consider, too. When recovering after any type of heart surgery, cardiopulmonary rehabilitation is recommended. This specialized form of rehab is designed to help you safely return to normal activities and to keep your heart healthy in the future.
That’s one of the benefits of working with a robotic heart surgeon through Georgia Heart Institute. Northeast Georgia Health System offers comprehensive cardiopulmonary rehabilitation, including options that can be done remotely. If you travel here to undergo robotic heart surgery, the rehabilitation team will coordinate and set up remote rehabilitation with you once you’ve returned home.
The bottom line? If you believe robotic heart surgery is the best option for your health needs, talk with your care team about a referral to a robotic heart surgeon.
Interested in traveling to Georgia Heart Institute for robotic heart surgery? Our robotic heart surgeons are here to provide innovative care for patients from near and far. Take the first step—reach out to our cardiovascular surgery program to learn more.